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Copyright, 1919, by 

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And the Lord spake unto Moses saying: 
Speak unto Aaron saying whosoever he be of thy seed 
in their generations that hath any blemish let him not 
approach to offer the bread of his God. 

LEVITICUS xxi. 16-17. 


In the parlor, as they call it, or best room of every 
Irish farmhouse, one may come upon a certain number 
of books that are never read, laid there in lonely re- 
pose upon the big square table on the middle of the floor. 
A novel entitled * ' Knocknagow ' ' is almost always certain 
to be amongst them, yet scarcely as the result of selec- 
tion, although its constant occurrence cannot be consid- 
ered purely accidental. There must lurk an explanation 
somewhere about these quiet Irish houses connecting the 
very atmosphere with " Knocknagow*' A stranger, 
thinking of some of the great books of the world, would 
almost feel inclined to believe that this story of the quiet 
homesteads of Ireland must be one of them, a book full 
of inspiration and truth and beauty, a story sprung from 
the bleeding realities which were before the present com- 
fort of these homes. Yet for all the expectations which 
might be raised up in one by this most popular, this 
typical Irish novel, it is most certainly the book with 
which the new Irish novelist would endeavor to contrast 
his own. For he would be writing of life, as the modern 
novelist's art is essentially a realistic one, and not of 
the queer, distant, half pleasing, half saddening thing 
which could make one Irish farmer's daughter say to 
another at any time within the past forty years : 

i ' And you 'd often see things happening nearly in real 
life like in * Knocknagow. ' Now wouldn 't you ? ' ' 

Nearer by a long way than Charles Joseph Kickham 



to what the Irish novelist should have been was "William 
Carleton in his great, gloomy, melodramatic stories of 
the land. He was prevented by the agrarian obsession 
of his time from having the clear vision and wide pity, 
in keeping with his vehemence, which might have made 
him the Irish Balzac. 

Even in Ireland Lever and Lover have become un- 
popular. They are read only by Englishmen who still 
try to perpetuate their comic convention when they write 
newspaper articles about Ireland. 

As with Kickham, largely in his treatment of the Irish 
peasant, Gerald Griffin in "The Collegians" did not 
succeed in giving his Irish middle or "strong farmer" 
class characters the spiritual energy so necessary to the 
literary subject. 

Here are five writers then, who included in their work 
such exact opposites as saints and sinners, heroes and 
omadhanns, earnest passionate men and broths of "bhoys. 
And somehow between them, between those who wrote to 
degrade us and those who have idealized us, the real 
Irishman did not come to be set down. From its fiction, 
reality was absent, as from most other aspects of Irish 

To a certain extent the realistic method has been em- 
ployed by the dramatists of the Irish Literary Move- 
ment, but necessarily limited by the scope and conven- 
tions of the stage and by the narrower appeal of the 
spoken word in the mouth of an actor. The stage, too, 
has a way of developing cults and conventions and of its 
very nature must display a certain amount of artificial- 
ity, even in the handling of realistic material. Thus 
comes a sudden stagnation, a sudden completion always 


of a literary movement developed mostly upon the dra- 
matic side, as has come upon the work of the Abbey 

It appears rather accidental, but perhaps on the whole 
to its benefit, that the dramatic form should have been 
adopted by J. M. Synge and not the epical form of the 
novel. Synge fell with a lash of surprise upon the Ire- 
land of his time, for the Irish play had been as fully 
degraded as the Irish novel. Furthermore the shock of 
his genius created an opportunity which made possible 
the realistic Irish novelist. At the Abbey Theater they 
performed plays dealing with subjects which no Irish 
novelist, thinking of a public, would have dreamt of 
handling. Somehow their plays have come to be known 
and accepted throughout Ireland. Thus a reading pub- 
lic for this realistic Irish novel has been slowly created 
and the urge to write like this has come to many story- 

Of necessity, as part of the reaction from the work of 
the feeble masters we have known, the first examples 
of the new Irish novel were bound to be a little savage 
and pitiless. In former pictures of Irish life there was 
heavy labor always to give us the shade at the expense 
of the light, in fact at the expense of the truth which 
is life itself. In Ireland the protest of the realist is not 
so much against Romanticism as against an attempt made 
to place before us a pseudo-realism. According as the 
Irish people resign themselves to the fact that this is not 
a thing which should not be done, the work of the Irish 
realist will approximate more nearly to the quality of 
the Russian novelists, in which there are neither exag- 
gerations of Light nor of Shade, but a picture of life all 


gray and quiet, and brightened only by the beauty of 
tragic reality. 

It leaves room for interesting speculation, that at a 
time of political chaos, at a time when in Ireland there 
is a great coming and going of politicians of all brands, 
dreamers, sages and mystics, the decline of the Irish Lit- 
erary Movement on its dramatic side should have given 
the realistic Irish novelist his opportunity to appear. 
The urgent necessity of reality in Irish life at the mo- 
ment fills one with the thought that a school of Irish 
realists might have brought finer things to the heart of 
Ireland than the Hy Brazil of the politicians. 

The function of the Irish novelist to evoke reality has 
been proved in the case of ' ' The Valley of the Squinting 
Windows. ' ' Upon its appearance the people of that part 
of Ireland with whom I deal in my writings became 
highly incensed. They burned my book after the best 
medieval fashion and resorted to acts of healthy vio- 
lence. The romantic period seemed to have been cut out 
of their lives and they were full of life again. The story 
of my story became widely exaggerated through gradu- 
ally increasing venom and my book, which had been well 
received by the official Irish Press, whose reviewers 
generally read the books they write about was supposed 
by some of my own people to contain the most frightful 
things. To the peasant mind, fed so long upon unreal 
tales of itself, the thing I had done became identified 
after the most incongruous fashion and very curiously 
with an aspect of the very literary association from 
which I had sprung. Language out of Synge's " Play- 
boy of the Western World'* came to my ears from every 
side during the days in which I was made to suffer for 


having written " The Valley of the Squinting Windows. " 
"And saving your presence, sir, are you the man that 
killed your father?" 
"lam, God help me!" 
"Well then, my thousand blessings to you!" 
The country as a whole did not dislike my picture of 
Irish life or say it was untrue. It was only the particu- 
lar section of life which was pictured that still asserted 
its right to the consolation of romantic treatment, but in 
its very attempt to retain romance in theory it became 
realistic in practise. It did exactly what it should have 
done a great many years ago with the kind of books from 
which it drew a certain poisonous comfort towards its 
own intellectual and political enslavement. The rest of 
Ireland was amused by the performance of those who 
did not think, with Mr. Yeats, that romantic Ireland was 
dead and gone. The realist had begun to evoke reality 
and no longer did a great screech sound through the land 
that this kind of thing should not be done. A change 
had come, by miraculous coincidence, upon the soul of 
Ireland. It was not afraid of realism now, for it had 
faced the tragic reality of the travail which comes be- 
fore a healthy national consciousness can be born. No 
longer would the realist be described in his own country 
as merely a morbid scoundrel or an enemy of the Irish 
people. They would not need again the solace of the 
sentimental novelist for all the offenses of the carica- 
turists in Irish fiction, because, with the wider and 
clearer vision of their own souls fully realized, had they 
already begun to look out upon the world. 

Dublin, March 1st, 1919. 




MRS. BRENNAN took her seat again at the sewing- 
machine by the window. She sighed as she turned 
her tired eyes in search of some inducement to solace 
down the white road through the valley of Tullahanogue. 
The day was already bright above the fields and groups 
of children were beginning to pass through the morning 
on their way to school. Mrs. Brennan beheld their 
passage, yet now as always she seemed to miss the small 
beauty of the little pageant. 

1 * God help them, the poor little things ! ' ' she condoled 
to herself, "and may He enlighten the unfortunate 
parents who send them to that quare, ould, ignorant pair, 
Master Donnellan and Mrs. Wyse, the mistress. Musha, 
sure they're no teachers!" 

From this it might seem that Mrs. Brennan, the dress- 
maker of the valley and one well entitled to be giving 
out an opinion, did not think very highly of National 
Education. Yet it was not true that she failed to regard 
the lofty fact of education with all a peasant's stupid 
reverence, for was she not the mother of John Brennan, 
who was now preparing for the priesthood at a grand 
college in England? A priest, mind you! That was 
what you might call something for a woman to be ! 



The pride of her motherhood struck a high and re- 
sounding note in the life of the valley. Furthermore, it 
gave her authority to assert herself as a woman of re- 
markable standing amongst the people. She devoted her 
prerogative to the advancement of the Catholic Church. 
She manifested herself as one intensely interested in its 
welfare. There was no cheap religious periodical, from 
The Catholic Times to The Messenger, that she did not 
regularly purchase. All these she read to her husband, 
Ned Brennan, in the long quiet evenings after the man- 
ner of one discharging a religious duty. 

This was a curious side of her. She kept him in com- 
fort and in ease, and yet when his body had been con- 
tented she must needs apply herself to the welfare of his 
soul. For, although he spent many a penny of her 
money in the village of Garradrimna, was he not the 
father of John Brennan, who was going to be a priest 
of God? She forgave him everything on this account, 
even the coarse and blasphemous expressions he continu- 
ally let fly from his mouth the while she read for him 
the most holy stories by Jesuit Fathers. 

Just now she had given him two shillings with which 
to entertain himself. He had threatened to strike her 
in the event of her refusal. . . . That was why she had 
been sighing and why the tears were now creeping into 
her great tired eyes as she began to set her machine in 
motion for the tasks of the day. Dear, dear, wasn't he 
the cruel, hard man? . . . Yet beyond all this thought 
of him was her bright dream of the day when, with the 
few pounds she had saved so secretly from the wide grasp 
of his thirst, she must fit him out in a rich suit of black 
and go by his side proudly to attend the ordination of 


their son John. It was because she so dearly loved her 
dream that she bore him with immense patience. 

Also it was because she had been thinking of that 
grand day and of the descending splendor of her son 
that she now commented so strongly upon the passage 
of the children to school. She had spoken bitterly to 
her own heart, but in that heart of hers she was a bitter 

This was such a sunny, lovely morning. It was the 
day of the June Races in the town of Mullaghowen, and 
most of the valley-dwellers had gone there. The wind- 
ing, dusty road through Tullahanogue was a long lane 
of silence amid the sunlight. It appeared as an avenue 
to the Palace of Dreams. So it was not at all strange 
that Mrs. Brennan was dreaming forward into the future 
and filling her mind with fancies of the past. She was 
remembering herself as Nan Byrne, the prettiest girl in 
the valley. This was no illusion of idle vanity, for was 
there not an old daguerreotype in an album on the table 
behind her at this very moment to prove that beauty 
had been hers? And she had been ruined because of 
that proud beauty. It was curious to think how her 
sister and she had both gone the same way. . . . The 
period of a generation had passed since the calamity 
had fallen upon them almost simultaneously. It was 
the greatest scandal that had ever happened in these 
parts. The holy priest, whose bones were now molder- 
ing beneath the sanctuary of the chapel, had said hard 
words of her. From the altar of God he had spoken 
his pity of her father, and said that she was a bad 

"May God strengthen him, for this is the bitter bur- 


den to bear. Philip Byrne is a decent man for all his 
daughter Nan is a woman of shame. I pray you avoid 
her every one who has the trace of God's purity in his 
heart. Let you go not into that house which she has 
made an abode of lust, nor allow the fair name of your 
own house to be blemished by the contamination of her 
presence within its walls." 

Yes, it was true that all this had been said of her by 
the holy father, and in the very spot beneath which his 
bones were now at rest. They were the hard words 
surely to have issued from the lips of God's annointed. 
Even in the fugitive remembrance of them now they 
seemed to have left red marks like whip-lash weals 
across her soul. The burning hurt of them drove her 
deeper into remembrance. She had already come to the 
full development of her charms when her ambition had 
also appeared. It was, in short, to effect the "catch" 
of one of the strong farmers of the valley. She entered 
into conspiracy with her sister and, together, they laid 
their plans. Henry Shannon was the one upon whom 
she had set her eye and Loughlin Mulvey the one her 
sister Bridget had begun to desire. They were both 
men of family and substance, and hard drinkers after 
the fashion of the fields. They often called at the house 
to see the sisters. Philip Byrne, whose occupation as 
head-groom at the stables of the Moores of Garradrimna 
often took him away from Ireland, would always be 
absent during those visitations. But their mother would 
be there, Mrs. Abigail Byrne, ambitious for her daugh- 
ters, in great style. It was never known to happen that 
either of the strong farmers called to the house without 
a bottle of whiskey. Mrs. Byrne always looked favor- 


ably upon them for their high decency, and the whiskey 
was good whiskey. 

Here in this very room where she now sat remember- 
ing it all there had been such scenes! Her hair had 
been so thick and brown and there had been a rare bloom 
upon her skin as she had sat here alone with Henry 
Shannon, talking with him of queer things and kissing 
his dark, handsome face. And all through those far, by- 
gone times she used to be thinking of his grand house 
and of his broad fields and the way she would one day 
assert herself in the joy of such possessions over her less 
fortunate sisters of the valley. Yet, ever mixed with 
her bright pieces of imagination, there had been such 
torturing doubts. . . . Her sister Bridget had always 
been so certain of her prey. 

There had been times when Henry Shannon spent the 
night in the house. In those nights had been laid the 
foundations of her shame. . . . Very, very clearly did 
she remember the sickening, dreadful morning she had 
come to her mother with the story that she was going to 
have a child. How angry the elder woman had been, so 
lit within her all the wild instincts of the female against 
the betrayer of her sex? Why had she gone so far? 
"Why had she not played her cards like her sister? 
There was no fear of her yet although she had got a 
proper hold of Loughlin Mulvey. . . . What was she to 
do at all? She who had had great ambitions was to 
become lower than the lowest in the valley. 

Yet the three of them had conferred together, for all 
the others were so angry with her because of her disas- 
trous condition into which she had allowed herself to 
slip without having first made certain of Henry Shan- 


non. The only course left now was to "make a show" 
of him if he could not see his way to marry her. 

She could now remember every line of the angry, 
misspelled letter she had sent to her whilom lover, and 
how it had brought him to the house in a mood of 
drunken repentance. He presented her with material 
for a new dress on the very same night, and, as she 
laughed and cried over it in turn, she though how very 
curious it was that he should wish to see her figure richly 
adorned when already it had begun to put on those signs 
of disfigurement which announce the coming of a child. 
But he was very, very kind, and all suspicion fell away 
from her. Before he went he whispered an invitation 
to spend a few days with him in Dublin. . . . What did 
it matter now, and it was so kind of him to ask her? 
It showed what was in his mind, and therefore no talk 
of marriage passed between them. It did not seem 

Then had followed quickly those lovely days in Dub- 
lin, she stopping with him as "Mrs. Henry Shannon" at 
a grand hotel. He had given her a wedding-ring, but 
while it remained upon her finger it was ever the little 
accusing symbol, filling her with an intense conviction of 
her sin. 

This great adventure had marked the beginning of 
her acquaintance with the world beyond the valley, and, 
even now, through the gloom of her mood, she could re- 
member it with a certain amount of gladness coming 
back to her mind. But it was queer that the brighest 
moment of her life should also have been the moment of 
darkest disaster. . . . She re-created the slight incidents 
of their quarrel. It was so strange of him after all the 


grand kindness he had just been showing her. . . . She 
had returned to the valley alone and with her disgrace 
already beginning to be heavy upon her. . . . She never 
saw Henry Shannon or spoke with him again. When 
she wrote referring distantly to their approaching mar- 
riage and making mention of the wedding-ring, the re- 
ply came back from Mr. Robinson, the solicitor in Garra- 
drimna, who was his cousin and sporting companion. 
She knew how they had already begun to talk of her in 
the valley for having gone off to Dublin with Henry 
Shannon, and now, when an ugly word to describe her 
appeared there black and plain in the solicitor's letter, 
she felt, in blind shame, that the visit to Dublin had 
been planned to ruin her. The air of the valley seemed 
full of whispers to tell her that she had done a mon- 
strous thing. Maybe they could give her jail for hav- 
ing done a thing like that, and she knew well that Henry 
Shannon's people would stop at nothing to destroy her, 
for they were a dark, spiteful crew. They were rich 
and powerful, with lawyers in the family, and what 
chance would she have in law now that every one was 
turned against her. So that night she went out when 
it was very dark and threw away the wedding-ring. 
The small, sad act appeared as the renunciation of her 
great ambition. 

She remembered with a surpassing clearness the wide 
desolation of the time that followed. Loughlin Mulvey 
had been compelled to marry her sister Bridget because 
he had not been clever enough to effect a loophole of 
escape like Henry Shannon. Already three months 
after the marriage (bit by bit was she now living the 
past again ) the child had been born to Bridget, and now 


she herself was waiting for the birth of her child. . . . 
Indeed Bridget need not have been so angry. 

She had been delirious and upon the brink of death, 
and when, at last, she had recovered sufficiently to real- 
ize the sharpness of her mother's tongue once more the 
child had disappeared. She had escaped to England 
with all that was left of her beauty. There she had met 
Ned Brennan, and there had her son John Brennan been 
born. For a short while she had known happiness. 
Ned was rough, but in his very strength there was a 
sense of security and protection which made him bear- 
able. And there was little John. He was not a bit like 
her short, wild impression of the other little child. Her 
disgrace had been the means of bringing Philip Byrne 
to his grave; and, after six or seven years, her mother 
had died, and she had returned to the valley of Tulla- 
hanogue. It was queer that, with all her early knowl- 
edge of the people of the valley, she had never thought 
it possible that some of them would one day impart to 
him the terrible secret she had concealed so well while 
acting the ingenuous maiden before his eyes. 

Yet they were not settled a month at the cottage in 
the valley when Ned came from Garradrimna one night 
a changed man. Larry Cully, a loafer of the village, 
had attacked him with the whole story. . . . Was this 
the kind of people among whom she had brought him to 
live, and was this a fact about her? She confessed her 
share, but, illtreat her how he would, she could not tell 
him what had been done with the child. 

Henceforth he was so different, settling gradually 
into his present condition. He could not go about mak- 
ing inquiries as to the past of his wife, and the people 


of the valley, gloating over his condition, took no pains 
to ease his mind. It was more interesting to see him 
torture himself with suspicion. They hardly fancied she 
had told him all. It was grand to see him drinking in 
his endeavors to forget the things he must needs be 
thinking of. 

Thus had Mrs. Brennan lived with her husband for 
eighteen years, and no other child had been born to 
them. His original occupation of plumber's laborer 
found no opportunity for its exercise in the valley, but 
he sometimes lime-washed stables and mended roofs and 
gutters. For the most part, however, she kept him 
through her labor at the machine. 

Her story was not without its turn of pathos, for it 
was strange to think of her reading the holy books to 
him in the long, quiet evenings all the while he despised 
her for what she had been with a hatred that all the 
magnanimous examples of religion could not remove. 

She was thinking over it all now, and so keenly, for 
he had just threatened to strike her again. Eighteen 
years had not removed from his mind the full and bitter 
realization of her sin. . . . They were both beginning to 
grow gray, and her living atonement for what she had 
been, her son John who was going on for the Church, 
was in his twentieth year. Would her husband forgive 
her when he saw John in the garb of a priest? She 
wondered and wondered. 

So deep was she in this thought that she did not no- 
tice the entrance of old Marse Prendergast, who lived in 
a cabin just across the road. Marse was a super- 
annuated shuiler and a terror in the valley. The tears 
had been summoned to her eyes by the still unchang- 


ing quality of Ned's tone. They were at once detected 
by the old woman. 

" Still crying, are ye, Nan Byrne, for Henry Shannon 
that's dead and gone?" 

This was a sore cut, but it was because of its severity 
that it had been given. Marse Prendergast's method 
was to attack the person from whom she desired an alms 
instead of making an approach in fear and trembling. 

"Well, what's the use in regretting now that he didn't 
marry ye after all? ... Maybe you could give me a 
bit of Ned's tobacco for me little pipe, or a few coppers 
to buy some.'' 

"I will in troth," she said, searching her apron pocket, 
only to discover that Ned had taken all her spare cop- 
pers. She communicated her regrets to the old woman, 
but her words fell upon ears that doubted. 

"Ah-ha, the lie is on your lip yet, Nan Byrne, just 
as it was there for your poor husband the day he mar- 
ried you, God save us all from harm you who were 
what you were before you went away to England. And 
now the cheek you have to go refuse me the few coppers. 
Ye think ye 're a great one, don't you, with your son 
at college, and he going on to be a priest. Well, let 
me tell you that a priest hell never be, your grand son, 
John. Ye have the quare nerve to imagine it indeed if 
you ever think of what happened to your other little 
son. . . . Maybe 'tis what ye don't remember that, Nan 
Bryne. . . . The poor little thing screeching in the 
night-time, and some one carrying a box out into the gar- 
den in the moonlight, and them digging the hole. . . . 
Ah, 'tis well I know all that, Nan Byrne, although you 
may think yourself very clever and mysterious. And 


'tis maybe I'll see you swing for it yet with your re- 
fusals and the great annoyance you put me to for the 
means of a smoke, and I a real ould woman and all. But 
listen here to me, Nan Byrne! "Tis maybe to your 
grand son, John Brennan, I'll be telling the whole story 
some day!" 


HER tongue still clacking in soliloquy, Marse Pren- 
dergast hobbled out of the house, and Mrs. Bren- 
nan went to the small back window of the sewing-room. 
She gazed wistfully down the long, sloping fields to- 
wards the little lake which nestled in the bosom of the 
valley. Within the periods of acute consciousness which 
came between her sobs she began to examine the curious 
edifice of life which housed her soul. An unaccount- 
able, swift power to do this came to her as she saw the 
place around which she had played as a child, long 
ago, when she had a brow snow-white and smooth, with 
nice hair and laughing eyes. Her soul, too, at that 
time was clean clean like the water. And she was wont 
to have glad thoughts of the coming years when she had 
sprung to girlhood and could wear pretty frocks and 
bind up her hair. Across her mind had never fallen 
the faintest shadow of the thing that was to happen to 

Yet now, as she ran over everything in her mind, she 
marveled not a little that, although she could not pos- 
sibly have returned to the perfect innocence of her child- 
hood state, she had triumphed over the blight of certain 
circumstances to an extraordinary extent. She was sur- 
prised to realize that there must have been some strength 
of character in her not possessed by the other women 
of the valley. It had been her mother's mark of dis- 



tinction, but the dead woman had used it towards the 
achievement of different ends. Ends, too, which had 
left their mark upon the lives of both her daughters. 

It struck her now, with another lash of surprise, that 
it had been an amazingly cheeky thing to have returned 
to the valley; but, as the shining waters of the lake 
led her mind into the quiet ways of contemplation, she 
could not help thinking that she had triumphed well. 

To be living here at all with such a husband, and her 
son away in England preparing for the priesthood, 
seemed the very queerest, queerest thing. It was true 
that she held herself up well and had a fine conceit of 
herself, if you please. The mothers of the neighborhood 
had, for the most part, chosen to forget the contamina- 
tion that might have arisen from sending their daugh- 
ters to a woman like her for their dresses, and, in eon- 
sequence, she had been enabled to build up this little 
business. She asserted herself in the ways of assertion 
which were open to the dwellers in the valley. She at- 
tended to her religious duties with admirable regularity. 
It was not alone that she fulfilled the obligation of hear- 
ing Mass on Sundays and Holy days, but also on many 
an ordinary morning when there was really no need to 
be so very pious. She went just to show them that she 
was passionately devoted to religion. Yet her neigh- 
bors never once regarded her in the light of a second 
Mary Magdalene. They entered into competition with 
her, it was true, for they could not let it be said that 
Nan Byrne was more religious than they, and so, be- 
tween them, they succeeded in degrading the Mysteries. 
But it was the only way that was open to them of show- 
ing off their souls. 


On a Sunday morning the procession they formed was 
like a flock of human crows. And the noise they made 
was a continual caw of calumny. The one presently ab- 
sent was set down as the sinner. They were eternally 
the Pharisees and she the Publican. Mrs. Brennan was 
great among these crows of calumny. It was her place 
of power. She could give out an opinion coming home 
from Mass upon any person at all that would almost 
take the Hearing out of your ears. She effectively beat 
down the voice of criticism against herself by her sweep- 
ing denunciations of all others. It was an unusual 
method, and resembled that of Marse Prendergast, the 
shuiler, from whom it may probably have been copied. 
It led many to form curious estimates as to the exact 
type of mind possessed by the woman who made use of 
it. There were some who described it as "thickness," 
a rather remarkable designation given to a certain qual- 
ity of temper by the people of the valley. But there 
was no denying that it had won for her a cumulative 
series of results which had built up about her some- 
thing definite and original and placed her resolutely 
in the life of the valley. 

She would often say a thing like this, and it might 
be taken as a good example of her talk and as throwing 
a light as well upon the conversation of those with whom 
she walked home the road from the House of God. A 
young couple would have done the best thing by marry- 
ing at the right age, and these long-married women with 
the queer minds would be putting before them the very 
worst prospects. Mrs. Brennan would distinguish her- 
self by saying a characteristic thing: 

"Well, if there's quarreling between them, and 


musha ! the same is sure to be, the names they '11 call one 
another won't be very nice for the pedigree is not too 
clean on either side of the house." 

No word of contradiction or comment would come 
from the others, for this was a morsel too choice to be 
disdained, seeing that it so perfectly expressed their 
own thoughts and the most intimate wishes of their 
hearts. It was when they got home, however, and, dur- 
ing the remaining portion of the Sunday, their happy 
carnival of destructive gossip, that they would think of 
asking themselves the question "What right had Nan 
Byrne of all people to be thinking of little slips that 
had happened in the days gone by?" But the unrea- 
sonableness of her words never appeared in this light to 
her own mind. She was self-righteous to an enormous 
degree, and it was her particular fancy to consider all 
women as retaining strongly their primal degradation. 
And yet it was at such a time she remembered, not 
penitently however, or in terms of abasement, but with 
a heavy sadness numbing her every faculty. It was her 
connection with a great sin and her love for her son 
John which would not become reconciled. 

When she returned to the valley with her husband 
and her young child she had inaugurated her life's 
dream. Her son John was to be her final justification 
before the world and, in a most wondrous way, had her 
dream begun to come true. She had reared him well, 
and he was so different from Ned Brennan. He was 
of a kindly disposition and, in the opinion of Master 
Donnellan, who was well hated by his mother, gave 
promise of great things. He had passed through the 
National School in some way that was known only to 


Mrs. Brennan, to "a grand College in England." He 
appeared as an extraordinary exception to the breed of 
the valley, especially when one considered the characters 
of both his parents. 

Mrs. Brennan dearly loved her son, but even here, as 
in every phase of her life, the curious twist of her na- 
ture revealed itself. Hers was a selfish love, for it had 
mostly to do with the triumph he represented for her 
before the people of the valley. But this was her dream, 
and a dream may often become dearer than a child. It 
was her one sustaining joy, and she could not bear to 
think of any shadow falling down to darken its gran- 
deur. The least suspicion of a calamity of this kind al- 
ways had the effect of reducing to ruins the brazen 
front of the Mrs. Brennan who presented herself to 
the valley and of giving her a kind of fainting in her 
very heart. 

Her lovely son! She wiped her tear-stained cheeks 
now with the corner of her black apron, for Farrell Mc- 
Guinness, the postman, was at the door. He said, 
' ' Good-morra, Mrs. Brennan !" and handed her a let- 
ter. It was from John, telling her that his summer 
holidays were almost at hand. It seemed strange that, 
just now, when she had been thinking of him, this let- 
ter should have come. . . . Well, well, how quickly the 
time passed, now that the snow had settled upon her 

Farrell McGuinness was loitering by the door waiting 
to have a word with her when she had read her letter. 

"I hear Mary Cooney over in Cruckenerega is home 
from Belfast again. Aye, and that she 's shut herself up 


in a room and not one can see a sight of her. Isn't 
that quare now? Isn't it, Mrs. Brennan?" 

"It's great, isn't it, Farrell? You may be sure 
there's something the matter with her." 

' * God bless us now, but wouldn 't that be the hard blow 
to her father and mother and to her little sisters?'* 

"Arrah musha, between you and me and the wall, the 
divil a loss. What could she be, anyhow?" 

"That's true for you, Mrs. Brennan!" 

"Aye, and to think that it was in Belfast, of all places, 
that it happened. Now, d'ye know what I'm going to 
tell ye, Farrell? 'Tis the bad, Orange, immoral hole of 
a place is the same Belfast!" 


FABRELL McGUINNESS, grinning to himself, had 
moved away on his red bicycle, and a motor now 
came towards her in its envelope of dust down the long 
road of Tullahanogue. This was the first hire motor 
that had appeared in the village of Garradrimna and 
was the property of Charlie Clarke, an excellent, re- 
ligious man, who had interested himself so successfully 
in bazaars and the charities that he had been thus 
enabled to purchase it. Its coming amongst them had 
been a sensational occurrence. If a neighbor wished to 
flout a neighbor it was done by hiring Clarke 's car ; arid 
Mrs. Brennan immediately thought what a grand thing 
it would be to take it on the coming Thursday and make 
a brave show with her son John sitting up beside her 
and he dressed in black. The dignity of her son, now 
moving so near the priesthood, demanded such a demon- 
stration. She hailed Charlie Clarke, and the car came 
suddenly to a standstill. The petrol fumes mingling 
with the rising dust of the summer road, floated to her 
nostrils like some incense of pride. 

"Good morning, Mrs. Brennan !" 

"Good morning, Mr. Clarke!" 

"You're not at the races of Mullaghowen?" 

"Not yet, Mrs. Brennan, but I'm going and with 
the Houlihans of Clonabroney. " 



"The Houlihans of Clonabroney, well, well; that's 
what you might call a quality drive." 

* ' Oh, indeed, 'tis almost exclusively to the quality and 
to the priests my drives are confined, Mrs. Brennan. 
I'm not patronized by the beggars of the valley." 

1 'That's right, Mr. Clarke, that's right. Keep your 
car clean at all costs. ... It's what I just stopped you 
to see if you could drive me over to Kilaconnaghan to 
meet my son John on Thursday. He 's coining home. ' ' 

"Is that so? Well you may say that's grand, Mrs. 
Brennan. Oh, indeed, John is the rare credit to you, 
so he is. You should be proud of him, for 'tis the fine 
beautiful thing to be going on for the Church. In fact, 
do ye know what it is, Mrs. Brennan? Only I'm mar- 
ried, I'd be thinking this very minute of giving up mo- 
tor, shop, land and everything and going into a monas- 
tery. I would so." 

"Now aren't you the fine, noble-minded man to be 
thinking of the like?" 

"I am so. ... Well, I'll drive you, Mrs. Brennan. 
On Thursday, you say, to Kilaconnaghan. The round 
trip will cost you fifteen shillings." 

"Fifteen shillings?" 

Charlie Clarke had already re-started the car which 
was again humming dustily down the road. Mrs. Bren- 
nan turned wearily into the sewing-room and seated her- 
self once more by the machine. She was crushed a 
little by the thought of the fifteen shillings. She saw 
clearly before her the long procession of the hours of 
torture for her eyes that the amount represented. It 
appeared well that she had not given the few coppers 
to old Marse Prendergast, for, even as things stood, 


she must approach some of her customers towards the 
settlement of small accounts to enable her to spend fif- 
teen shillings in the display of her pride. . . . For 
eighteen years it had been thus with her, this continual 
scraping and worrying about money. She wondered 
and wondered now was she ever destined to find release 
from mean tortures. Maybe when her son had become 
a priest he would be good to his mother? She had 
known of priests and the relatives of priests, who had 
grown amazingly rich. 

She was recalled from her long reverie by the return 
of Ned Brennan from Garradrimna. The signs of drink 
were upon him. 

"Where's me dinner ?" he said, in a flat, heavy voice. 

"Your dinner, is it? Oh dear, dear, 'tis how I never 
thought of putting it on yet. I had a letter from John, 
and sure it set me thinking. God knows I'll have it 
ready for you as soon as I can." 

"Aye, John. A letter from John. . . . Begad . . . 
Begad . . . And I wanting me dinner ! ' ' 

"So you'll have it, so you'll have it. Now aren't 
you the wild, impatient man? Can't you wait a min- 

' ' I never did see such a woman as you, and I in a com- 
plete hurry. Three slates slipped down off the school 
roof in the bit of wind the other night, and I'm after 
getting instructions from Father O'Keeffe to put them 

"Ah, sure, 'tis well I know how good and industrious 
you are, Ned. That's the sixth time this year you've 
put on the very same slates. You're a good man, in- 
deed, and a fine tradesman." 


For the moment his anger was appeased by this iron- 
ical compliment, which she did not intend as irony ; but 
at heart he was deeply vexed because he was going to 
do this little job. She knew he must be talking of it 
for months to come. When the few shillings it brought 
him were spent she must give him others and others as 
a continuous reward for his vast effort. This she must 
do as a part of her tragic existence, while beholding at 
the same time how he despised her in his heart. 

But, just now, the bitterness of this realization did 
not assail her with the full power of the outer darkness, 
for her mind was lit brilliantly to-day by the thought 
of John. And during the hours that passed after she 
had fitted out Ned for his adventurous expedition to the 
roof she could just barely summon up courage to turn 
the machine, so consumed was she by a great yearning 
for her son. 

The days, until Thursday, seemed to stretch them- 
selves into an age. But at three o'clock, when Charlie 
Clarke's white motor drew up at the door, she was still 
preparing for the journey. In the room which had 
known another aspect of her life she had been adorning 
herself for long hours. The very best clothes and all 
the personal ornaments in her possession must needs be 
brought into use. For it had suddenly appeared to her 
that she was about to enter into an unique ceremony 
comparable only to the ordination of John. 

Searching in an unfrequented drawer of the dressing- 
table for hair-pins, she had come upon an old cameo- 
brooch, one of Henry Shannon's costly presents to her 
during the period of their strange "honeymoon." It 
was a pretty thing, so massive and so respectable-look- 


ing. It was of that heavy Victorian period to which 
her story also belonged. With trembling hands she 
fastened it upon her bosom. In a deeper recess of the 
drawer she came upon a powder puff in a small round 
box, which still held some of the aid to beauty remain- 
ing dry and useful through all the years. She had once 
used it to heighten her graces in the eyes of Henry 
Shannon. And now, for all the blanching trouble 
through which she had passed, she could not resist the 
impulses of the light woman in her and use it to assert 
her pride in her son. It must be a part of her decking- 
out as she passed through the valley in a motor for the 
first time, going forth to meet her son. 

She took her seat at last by the side of Charlie Clarke, 
and passed proudly down the valley road. Things 
might have gone as agreeably as she had planned but 
for the peculiar religious warp there was in Charlie. 
He might have talked about the mechanism of his car 
or remarked at length upon the beauty of the summer 
day, but he must inevitably twist the conversation in 
the direction of religion. 

"I suppose," said he, "that it's a fine thing to be the 
mother of a young fellow going on for the Church. It 
must make you very contented in yourself when you 
think of all the Masses he will say for you during your 
lifetime and all the Masses he will say for the repose of 
your soul when you are dead and gone. ' ' 

"Aye, indeed, that's a grand and a true saying for 
you, Mr. Clarke. But sure what else could one expect 
from you, and yourself the good man that goes to Mass 
every day?" 

"And, Mrs. Brennan, woman dear, to see him saying 


the Holy Mass, and he having his face shining with the 
Light of Heaven!" 

"A beautiful sight, Mr. Clarke, as sure as you're 

The car was speeding along merrily, and now it had 
just passed, with a slight bump, over the culvert of a 
stream, which here and there was playing musically 
about little stones, and here arid there was like bits of 
molten silver spitting in the sun. It was a grand day. 

Whether or not the unusual sensation of the throbbing 
car was too much for Mrs. Brennan, she was speaking 
little although listening eagerly to the words of Charlie 
Clarke, asking him once or twice to repeat some sen- 
tences she had been kept from hearing by the noise of 
the engine. Now she was growing more and more silent, 
for they had not yet passed out of the barony of Tulla- 
hanogue. She saw many a head suddenly fill many a 
squinting window, and men and women they met on the 
road turn round with a sneer to gaze back at her sitting 
up there beside Charlie Clarke, the saintly chauffeur 
who went to Mass every day. 

Her ears were burning, and into her mind, in power- 
ful battalions, were coming all the thoughts that had 
just been born in the minds of the others. The powder 
she had applied to her cheeks was now like a burning 
sweat upon her skin. The cameo-brooch felt like a 
great weight where it lay upon her bosom heavily. It 
caught her breath and so prevented her maintaining 
conversation with Charlie Clarke. It reminded her in- 
sistently of the dear baby head of John reposing, as in 
a bower of tenderness, upon the same place. 

"It must be the grand and blessed thing for a mother 


to go to confession to her son. Now wouldn't it be won- 
derful to think of telling him, as the minister of God's 
mercy, the little faults she had committed before he was 
born or before she married his father. Now isn't that 
the queer thought, Mrs. Brennari?" 

She did not reply, and it took all she could marshal 
of self-possession to protect her from tears as the motor 
hummed into the village of Kilaconnaghan, where the 
railway station was. They had arrived well in advance 
of the tram's time. She passed through the little wait- 
ing-room and looked into the advertisement for Jame- 
son's Whiskey, which was also a mirror. She remem- 
bered that it was in this very room she had waited be- 
fore going away for that disastrous "honeymoon" with 
Henry Shannon. . . . This was a better mirror than the 
one at home, and she saw that the blaze upon her cheeks 
had already subdued the power of the powder, making 
it unnecessary and as the merest dirt upon her face. . . . 
The cameo-brooch looked so large and gaudy. . . . She 
momentarily considered herself not at all unlike some 
faded women of the pavement she had seen move, like 
malignant specters, beneath the lamplight in Dublin 
city. . . . She plucked away the brooch from her bosom 
and thrust it into her pocket. Then she wiped her face 
clean with her handkerchief. 

Far off, and as a glad sound coming tentatively to her 
ears, she could hear the train that was bearing her be- 
loved son home to the valley and to her. It was nearly 
a year since she last saw him, and she fancied he must 
have changed so within that space of time. Who knew 
how he might change towards her some day? This was 
her constant dread. And now as the increasing noise 


of the train told that it was drawing nearer she felt im- 
mensely lonely. 

The few stray passengers who ever came to Kilacon- 
naghan by the afternoon train had got out, and John 
Brennan was amongst them. On the journey from Dub- 
lin he had occupied a carriage with Myles Shannon, who 
was the surviving brother of Henry Shannon and the 
magnate of the valley. The time had passed pleasantly 
enough, for Mr. Shannon was a well-read, interesting 
man. He had spoken in an illuminating way of the 
Great War. He viewed it in the light of a scourge and 
a just reckoning of calamity that the nations must pay 
for bad deeds they had done. "It is strange," said he, 
"that even a nation, just like an individual, must pay its 
just toll for its sins. It cannot escape, for the punish- 
ment is written down with the sin. There is not one 
of us who may not be made to feel the wide sweep of 
God's justice in this Great War, even you, my boy, who 
may think yourself far removed from such a possibil- 
ity. " 

These were memorable words, and John Brennan al- 
lowed himself to fall into a spell of silence that he might 
the better ponder them. Looking up suddenly, he 
caught the other gazing intently at him with a harsh 
smile upon his face. 

So now that they were to part they turned to shake 

"Good-by, Mr. Brennan!" said Myles Shannon to 
the student. "I wish you an enjoyable holiday-time. 
Maybe you could call over some evening to see my 
nephew Ulick, my brother Henry's son. He's here on 
holidays this year for the first time, and he finds the 


valley uncommonly dull after the delights of Dublin. 
He's a gay young spark, I can tell you, but students 
of physic are generally more inclined to be lively than 
students of divinity." 

This he said with a flicker of his harsh smile as they 
shook hands, and John Brennan thanked him for his 
kind invitation. Catching sight of Mrs. Brennan, Mr. 
Shannon said, ' ' Good-day ! ' ' coolly and moved out of the 

To Mrs. Brennan this short conversation on the plat- 
form had seemed protracted to a dreadful length. As 
she beheld it from a little distance a kind of desolation 
had leaped up to destroy the lovely day. It compelled 
her to feel a kind of hurt that her son should have 
chosen to expend the few first seconds of his home-com- 
ing in talking, of all people, to one of the Shannon 
family. But he was a young gentleman and must, of 
course, show off his courtesy and nice manners. And 
he did not know . . . But Myles Shannon knew. . . . 
His cool "Good-day*!" to her as he moved out of the 
station appeared to her delicate sensitiveness of the 
moment as an exhibition of his knowledge. Immediately 
she felt that she must warn John against the Shannons. 

He came towards her at last, a thin young man in 
black, wearing cheap spectacles. He looked tenderly 
upon the woman who had borne him. She embraced 
him and entered into a state of rapt admiration. Within 
the wonder of his presence she was as one translated, 
her sad thoughts began to fall from her one by one. 
On the platform of this dusty wayside station in Ire- 
land she became a part .of the glory of motherhood as 
she stood there looking with pride upon her son. 


The motor had surprised him. He would have been 
better pleased if this expense had been avoided, for he 
was not without knowledge and appreciation of the con- 
dition of his parents' affairs. Besides the little donkey 
and trap had always appeared so welcome in their sim- 
plicity, and it was by means of them that all his former 
home-comings had been effected. Those easy voyages 
had afforded opportunity for contemplation upon the 
splendor of the fields, but now the fields seemed to slip 
past as if annoyed by their faithlessness. Yet he knew 
that his mother had done this thing to please him, and 
how could he find it in his heart to be displeased with 

She was speaking kind words to him, which were being 
rudely destroyed, in their tender intonation, by the noise 
of the engine. She was setting forth the reasons why 
she had taken the car. It was the right thing now 
around Garradrimna. The Houlihans of Clonabroney. 
Again the changing of the gears cut short her ex- 

"That man who was down with you in the train, Mr. 
Shannon, what was he saying to you?" 

"Indeed he was kindly inviting me over to see his 
nephew. I never knew he had a nephew, but it seems 
he has lived up in Dublin. He said that his brother, 
Henry Shannon, was the father of this young man." 

The feelings which her son's words brought rushing 
into her mind seemed to cloud out all the brightness 
which, for her, had again returned to the day. Yes, this 
young man, this Ulick Shannon, was the son of Henry 
Shannon and Henry Shannon was the one who had 
brought the great darkness into her life. ... It would 


be queer, she thought, beyond all the queerness of the 
world, to see the son of that man and her son walking 
together through the valley. The things that must be 
said of them, the terrible sneer by which they would be 
surrounded Henry Shannon's son and the son of Nan 
Byrne. . . . She grew so silent beneath the sorrow of 
her vision that, even in the less noisy spaces of the hum- 
ming car, the amount of time during which she did not 
speak seemed a great while. 

"What is the matter, mother?" said John Brennan. 

"It was how I was thinking that maybe it would be 
better now if you had nothing to do with the Shan- 

* ' But it was very kind of Mr. Shannon to invite me. ' ' 

* ' I know, I know ; but I 'd rather than the world it was 
any other family at all only the Shannons. They're a 
curious clan." 

In the painful silence that had come upon them she 
too was thinking of the reasons from which her words 
had sprung. Of how Henry Shannon had failed to 
marry her after he had ruined her ; of how the disgrace 
had done no harm at all to him with his money and his 
fine farm. Then there was the burning thought of how 
he had married Grace Gogarty, the proudest and grand- 
est girl in the whole parish, and of how this young man 
had been born prematurely and, by a curious chance, 
about the same time as her own little child. The one 
thing that she always dreaded more than any other, 
in the pain of its remembrance, was the fact that Henry 
Shannon had married Grace Gogarty directly after the 
"honeymoon" with her in Dublin. Yes, it was hardest 
of all to think of that, and of how Grace Gogarty had 


so held up her head all through the short period of her 
wedded life with Henry Shannon. And after his death 
she had gone about with such conceited sorrowfulness 
in her widow's weeds. 

These thoughts had passed through her mind with 
swift definition, each one cutting deeper the gap which 
separated her from the long-dreamt-of joy of John's 
home-coming. And her lovely son sitting up beside her 
had grown so silent. 

As the car stopped by the house and Ned Brennan 
came out to meet them, unshaven and walking doggedly, 
she felt very certain that a shadow had settled down 
upon this particular return of John. The remembrance 
of her sin, from which it seemed impossible to escape, 
made the great thing she had planned so little and 


THERE arose a continual coming and going of John 
Brennan to and from the house of his mother 
through the valley. He was an object of curiosity and 
conjecture. The windows would squint at him as he 
went past through power of the leering faces behind; 
men working in the fields would run to the hedges and 
gaze after him as he went far down the road. 

In the evenings black prophets would foregather and 
say: "Now isn't he the fine-looking young fellow in- 
deed, with the grand black clothes upon him; but he'll 
never be a priest, and that's as sure as you're there, for 
his mother is Nan Byrne, and she was a bad woman, God 
help us all! 'Tis a pity of him, when you come to 
think of it, for it isn't his fault, happening as it did 
before he was born." 

John Brennan was innocent of guile, and so he did not 
become aware of the attitude of those among whom he 
passed. He did not realize that in his own person he 
stood as an affront to them, that he was the Levite stand- 
ing nearer God than they in their crude condition as 
clods of the earth. It was his mother who had created 
this position for him, for she had directed his studies 
towards divinity. If his natural abilities had won him 
the promise of any other elevation, it might not have 
annoyed them so deeply. But this was something they 
could not have been expected to bear, for not one 



amongst them had a son a priest, although they believed 
as iinplicity as Mrs. Brenuan in the virtue of religion, 
and there was always a feeling of intense righteousness 
upon them when they remembered her story. 

Yet, although this was the way they looked upon him, 
they were not without a certain cringing respect for the 
realization he represented. Thus it was that when they 
spoke to him there was a touch of deference in their 
voices although there was a sneer in their hearts. It 
could not be expected that he should see them as they 
really were. Yet there were odd, great moments when 
his larger vision enabled him to behold them moving 
infinitesimaliy, in affright, beneath the shadow of the 
Divine Hand. He possessed a certain gift of observa- 
tion, but it was superficial and of little consequence to 
his character for it flourished side by side with the large 
charity of his heart. 

One morning he encountered old Marse Prendergast 
upon the road. She was gathering a few green sticks 
from the hedge-rows. She seemed to be always looking 
for the means of a fire, and, to John Brenrian, there 
appeared something that touched him greatly in the 
spectacle of this whining old woman, from whom the 
spark of life was so quickly fading, having no comfort, 
even on a summer day, but just to be sitting over a few 
smoldering sticks, sucking at an old black pipe and 
breaking out into occasional converse with herself. She 
who had given birth to strong sons and lovely daughters 
sitting here in her little cabin alone. Her clutch was 
gone from her to America, to the streets, and to the 

John Brennan felt the pity of her, although he did not 


notice that the curtsey she gave him from the ditch was 
an essential portion of her contempt for the son of Nan 
Byrne (the cheek of him going 011 for to be a priest!), 
or that when she addressed him as Mr. Brennan it was 
in derision. 

"And glory be to God, sure we'll soon have to be call- 
ing you Father Brennan ! ' ' she repeated, as if silently 
marveling at the impossibility of the combination of 

He saw her move to accompany him down the road, 
her old back bent cruelly beneath the load of the 
weighty, green branches. He was touched, for he was 
not blind to the symbolism for which she stood, and of- 
fered to carry the branches for her, and she, accepting 
his offer, called down upon his head the blessing of 

As they moved slowly along the road she recounted, 
in snatches between her questions regarding his life at 
college, all the intimate woes of her life. Her lamenta- 
tions, as they drew near the cottage of Mrs. Brennan, at- 
tracted the attention of his mother, who saw a sight 
filling her eyes which cut her to the bone. She saw her 
son John, her hope and pride, conversing with Marse 
Prendergast, the long-tongued shuiler who tramped the 
country with her stories and in quest of more stories 
Marse Prendergast who knew her secret as no other 
knew it, and who had so recently reminded her of that 
knowledge. And he was carrying her sticks along the 
public road in the full light of day. ... So powerful 
was the hurt of her maternal feelings that she almost 
fainted sitting there by her machine. 

When John came into the room she looked so pale that 


he fancied she must be ill. He inquired as to the causes 
of her condition, but she only replied that she would try 
to tell him when he had taken his breakfast. 

As he was eating in silence she wondered what at all 
she could say to him or how she would attempt to place 
her view of things before him. This incident of the 
morning might be taken as a direct foreshadowing of 
what might happen if his foolish charity extended fur- 
ther down the valley. She did not dare to imagine 
what things he might be told or what stories might be 
suggested to his mind by the talk of the neighbors. But 
it was clearly her duty doubly to protect him from such 
a possibility. She saw that he had finished his break- 

"That was the quare thing you were doing just now, 
John? It was the quarest thing at all, so it was." 

"Queer, mother; what was?" 

"Talking to old Marse Prendergast, son, and she only 
a woman of the roads with a bad tongue on her." 

"I only stopped talking with her, mother, so that I 
might carry her sticks. She was not able. ' ' 

"And she used the fine opportunity, I'll warrant, to 
drag information out of you and carry it all through the 
valley. That's what she was at! That's what she was 

There was a kind of mournful wail in Mrs. Brennan's* 
tones as if she saw in John's action of the morning some 
irretrievable distance placed between herself and him. 
The people of the valley loomed ever great as an army 
between her and the desire of her heart, and John had 
just now, as it were, afforded an opening to the enemy. 

He received a certain amount of hurt from her words, 


for although he knew her only as his mother and a good 
woman who was well nigh faultless in her practise of 
the Christian religion, why was it .that this simple ac- 
tion of his, with its slight touch of charity, was resented 
by her? Yet he allowed her to proceed without ques- 
tion, listening always with that high and fine attention 
which must have been the attitude of Christ as He lis- 
tened to His Mother in Galilee. 

She painted a picture of the valley for his considera- 
tion. She proceeded to do this with a great concern 
moving her, for she was quick to perceive the change in 
him since his last holidays. He was a man now, and it 
was to his manhood condition she appealed. She be- 
gan to tell him, with such a rush of words, the life-his- 
tories of those around him. There was not a slight de- 
tail she did not go to great pains to enlarge, no skeleton 
she did not cause to jump from its cupboard and run 
alive once more through the valley. She painted a new 
portrait of every inhabitant in a way that amazed John, 
who had not known of such things. 

But over his first feelings of surprise came a great 
realization of sadness. For this was his mother who was 
speaking. Hitherto he had looked upon her as one un- 
touched by the clayey villainies of earth, a patient and 
very noble woman, with tired eyes and busy hands 
rather fashioned to confer benedictions than waste them- 
selves in labor. Now he was listening to one most subtly 
different, to a woman who had been suddenly meta- 
morphosed into the likeness of something primeval and 
startling. And she was oh! so bitter. 

Mrs. Brennan had no notion of the change that had 
come upon her. To herself there still appeared no dif- 


ference in herself. She was doing all this for love of 
her son John, as she had done much for love of him. 

There fell a thick silence between them when she had 
finished. The mother and the son were both exhausted, 
he from listening to her and she from reading the pedi- 
grees of every one to whom her mind could possibly ex- 
tend, including Marse Prendergast, the shuiler, and the 
Shannons, who were almost gentlemen like the Houli- 
hans of Clonabroney. 

John Brennan sighed as he said out of the innocence 
of his heart : 

"It is good, mother, that we are not as the rest of 

Mrs. Brennan did not reply. 


IN rural Ireland the ' ' bona-fide, " or rather mala-fide, 
traveler constitutes a certain blasphemous aspect 
in the celebration of the Sabbath. There are different 
types of ' ' bona-fide, " whose characteristics may be said 
to vary in direct proportion to their love and enthus- 
iasm for porter. The worship of porter, when it has 
attained the proportions of a perfect passion, is best 
described as "the pursuit of porter in a can." It is 
the cause of many drunken skirmishes with the law, 
and it is interesting to observe such mistaken heroes in 
the execution of their plans. 

At a given signal a sudden descent is made upon a 
pub. A series of whistles from sentries in various parts 
of the village has announced the arrival of the propitious 
moment. A big tin 'can is the only visible evidence of 
their dark intention. One almost forgets its betraying 
presence in the whirling moment of the brave deed. 
Then the deed is done. By some extraordinary process 
the can that was empty is found to be filled. It is the 
miracle of the porter. . . . When the sergeant and his 
colleagues come on the scene some hours later, an empty 
can with slight traces of froth upon the sides, "like 
beaded bubbles winking at the brim/' constitutes the 
remaining flimsy evidence of the great thing that has 

The mind of John Brennan was more or less foreign 



to this aspect of life amongst the fields. He would be 
the very last to realize that such were essential happen- 
ings in the life of his native village of Garradrimna. 
On his first Sunday at home he went walking, after sec- 
ond Mass, through the green woods which were the west- 
ern boundary of the village. His thoughts were dwell- 
ing upon Father O'Keeffe's material interpretation of 
the Gospel story. At last they eddied into rest as he 
moved there along the bright path between the tall 
trees, so quiet as with adoration. 

When he came by that portion of the demesne wall, 
which lay at the back of Brannagan's public-house, he 
heard a scurrying of rabbits among the undergrowth. 
In the sudden hush which followed he heard a familiar 
voice raised in a tense whisper. 

" Hurry, quick! quick! There's some one in black 
coming up the path. It must be Sergeant McGoldrick. 
The can! the can!" 

His cheeks were suddenly flushed by a feeling of 
shame, for it was his father who had spoken. He stood 
behind a wide beech tree in mere confusion and not 
that he desired to see what was going forward. 

His father, Ned Brennan, bent down like an acrobat 
across the demesne wall and took the can from some one 
beneath. Then he ran down through the undergrowth, 
the brown froth of the porter dashing out upon his 
trousers, his quick eyes darting hither and thither like 
those of a frightened animal. But he did not catch 
sight of John, who saw him raise the can to his 

It was a new experience for John Brennan to see his 
father thus spending the Sabbath in this dark place in 


the woods, while out in the young summer day spilled 
and surged all the wonder of the world. ... A sort of 
pity claimed possession of him as he took a different way 
among the cathedral trees. . . . His father was the 
queer man, queer surely, and moving lonely in his life. 
He was not the intimate of his son nor of the woman 
who was his son's mother. He had never seemed greatly 
concerned to do things towards the respect and honor of 
that woman. And yet John Brennan could not forget 
that he was his father. 

Just now another incident came to divert his mood. 
He encountered an ancient dryad flitting through the 
woods. This was Padna Padna, a famous character in 
Garradrimna. For all his name was that of the great 
apostle of his country, his affinities were pagan. Al- 
though he was eighty, he got drunk every day and never 
went to Mass. In his early days he had been the pro- 
prietor of a little place and the owner of a hackney car. 
When the posting business fell into decline, he had had 
to sell the little place and the horse and car, and the 
purchase money had been left for his support with a 
distant relative in the village. He was a striking figure 
as he moved abroad in the disguise of a cleric not alto- 
gether devoted to the service of God. He always 
dressed in solemn black, and his coat was longer than 
that of a civilian. His great hat gave him a downcast 
look, as of one who has peered into the Mysteries. His 
face was wasted and small, and this, with his partially 
blinded eyes behind the sixpenny spectacles, gave him 
a certain asceticism of look. Yet it was the way he 
carried himself rather than his general aspect which 
created this impression of him. He was very small, 


and shrinking daily. His eyes were always dwelling 
upon his little boots in meditation. Were you unaware 
of his real character, you might foolishly imagine that 
he was thinking of high, immortal things, but he was 
in reality thinking of drink. 

This was his daily program. He got up early and, 
on most mornings, crossed the street to Bartle Donohoe, 
the village barber, for a shave. Bartle would be wait- 
ing for him, his dark eye hanging critically as he tested 
the razor edge against the skin of his thumb. The little 
blade would be glinting in the sunlight. . . . Sometimes 
Bartle would become possessed of the thought that the 
morning might come when, after an unusually hard 
carouse on the previous night, he would not be respon- 
sible for all his razor might do, that it might suddenly 
leap out of his shivering hand and make a shocking end 
of Padna Padna and all his tyranny. . . . But his repu- 
tation as the drunkard with the steadiest hand in Gar- 
radrimna had to be maintained. If he did not shave 
Padna Padna the fact would be published in every 

"Bartle Donohoe was too shaky to shave me this 
morning ; too shaky, I say. Ah, he 's going wrong, going 
wrong ! And will ye tell me this now ? How is it that 
if ye buy a clock, a little ordinary clock for a couple of 
shillings, and give it an odd wind, it'll go right; but a 
man, a great, clever man 11 go wrong no matter what 
way ye strive for to manage him?" 

If Bartle shaved him, Padna Padna would take his 
barber over to Tommy Williams 's to give him a drink, 
which was the only payment he ever expected. After 
this, his first one, Padna Padna would say, "Not going 


to drink any more to-day," to which Bartle Donohoe 
would reply sententiously : "D'ye tell me so? Well, 
well! Is that a fact?" 

Then, directly, he would proceed to take a little walk 
before his breakfast, calling at every house of entertain- 
ment and referring distantly to the fact that Bartle 
Donohoe had a shake in his hand this morning. "A 
shame for him, and he an only son and all!" 

And thus did he spend the days of his latter end, pac- 
ing the sidewalks of Garradrimna, entering blindly into 
pubs and discussing the habits of every one save himself. 

He was great in the field of reminiscence. 

"Be the Holy Farmer!" he would say, "but there's 
no drinking nowadays tost what used to be longo. 
There's no decent fellows, and that's a fact. Ah, they 
were the decent fellows longo. You couldn't go driving 
them a place but they'd all come home mad. And sure 
I often didn't know where I'd be driving them, I'd be 
that bloody drunk. Aye, decent fellows! Sure they're 
all dead now through the power and the passion of 

So this was the one whom John Brennan now encoun- 
tered amid the green beauty of the woodland places. 
To him Padna Padna was one of the immortals. Suc- 
ceeding holiday after succeeding holiday had he met the 
ancient man, fading surely but never wholly declining 
or disappearing. The impulse which had prompted him 
to speak to Marse Prendergast a few days previously 
now made him say : * ' How are you, old man ? " to Padna 

The venerable drunkard, by way of immediate reply, 
tapped upon his lips with his fingers and then blew upon 


his fingers and whistled in cogitation. It was with hia 
ears that he saw, and he possessed an amazing faculty 
for distinguishing between the different voices of dif- 
ferent people. 

"John Brennan!" he at length exclaimed, in his high, 
thin voice. "Is that John Brennan?" 

"It is, the very one." 

"And how are ye, John?" 

"Very well, indeed, Padna. How are you?" 

"Poorly only. Ah, John, this is the hard day on me 
always, the Sunday. I declare to me God I detest Sun- 
day. Here am I marching through the woods since 
seven and I having no drink whatever. That cursed 
Sergeant McGoldrick ! May he have a tongue upon him 
some day the color of an ould brick and he in the seventh 
cavern of Hell! Did ye see Ned?" 

The sudden and tense question was not immediately 
intelligible to John Brerman. There were so many of 
the name about Garradrimna. Padna Padna pranced 
impatiently as he waited for an answer. 

"Ah, is it letting on you are that you don't know who 
I mean, and you with your grand ecclesiastical learning 
and all to that. 'Tis your own father, Ned Brennan, 
that I mean. I was in a 'join' with him to get a can 
out of Brannigan's. Mebbe you didn't see him any- 
where down through the wood, for I have an idea that 
he's going to swindle me. Did ye see him, I'm asking 

Even still John did not reply, for something seemed 
to have caught him by the throat and was robbing him 
of the power of speech. The valley, with its vast malev- 
olence of which his mother had so recently warned him, 


was now driving him to say something which was not 

"No, Padna, I did not see him!" he at last managed 
to jerk out. 

"Mebbe he didn't manage to get me drink for me 
yet, and mebbe he did get it and is after drinking it 
somewhere in the shadows of the trees where he couldn't 
be seen. But what am I saying at all? Sure if he was 
drinking it there before me, where you're standing, I 
couldn't see him, me eyes is that bad. Isn't it the poor 
and the hard case to be blinded to such an extent?" 

John Brennan felt no pity, so horrible was the ex- 
pression that now struggled into those dimming eyes. 
He thought of a puzzling fact of his parentage. Why 
was it that his mother had never been able to save his 
father from the ways of degradation into which he had 
fallen, the low companions, the destruction of the val- 
ley; from all of which to even the smallest extent she 
was now so anxious to save her son? 

Padna Padna was still blowing upon his fingers and 
regretting : 

"Now isn't it the poor and the hard case that there's 
no decent fellows left in the world at all. To think 
that I can meet never a one now, me that spent so much 
of me life driving decent fellows, driving, driving. 
John, do ye know what it is now? You're after putting 
me in mind of Henry Shannon. He was the decentest 
fellow! Many's the time I drove him down to your 
grandmother's place when he wouldn't have a foot un- 
der him to leave Garradrimna. That was when your 
mother was a young girl, John. Hee, hee, hee!'' 


John could not divine the reasons for the old man's 
glee, nor did he perceive that the mind of Padna Padna, 
even in the darkening stages of its end, was being lit by 
a horrible sneer at him and the very fact of his ex- 
istence. Instead he grew to feel rather a stir of compas- 
sion for this old man, with his shattered conception of 
happiness such as it was, burning his mind with mem- 
ories while he rode down so queerly to the grave. 

As he moved away through the long, peaceful aisles 
of the trees, his soul was filled with gray questioning 
because of what he had just seen of his father and be- 
cause of the distant connection of his mother with the 
incident. Why was it at all that his mother had never 
been able to save his father? 

As he emerged from the last circle of the woods there 
seemed to be a shadow falling low over the fields. He 
went with no eagerness towards the house of his mother. 
This was Sunday, and it was her custom to spend a large 
portion of the Sabbath in speaking of her neighbors. 
But she would never say anything about his father, even 
though Ned Brennan would not be in the house. 


JUST now there happened something of such unusual 
importance in the valley that Mrs. Brennan be- 
came excited about it. The assistant teacher of Tulla- 
hanogue Girls' School, Miss Mary Jane 'Donovan, had 
left, and a new assistant was coming in her stead. Miss 
O 'Donovan had always given the making of her things 
to Mrs. Brennan, so she spoke of her, now that she was 
gone, as having been "a very nice girl." Just yet, of 
course, she was not in a position to say as much about 
the girl who was coming. But the entry of a new per- 
son into the life of the valley was a great event! Such 
new things could be said! 

On Monday morning Mrs. Brennan called her son 
into the sewing-room to describe the imminent nature 
of the event. The sense of depression that had come 
upon him during the previous day did not become 
averted as he listened. 

What an extraordinary mixture this woman who was 
his mother now appeared before his eyes! And yet he 
could not question her in any action or in any speech; 
she was his mother, and so everything that fell from her 
must be taken in a mood of noble and respectful accept- 
ance. But she was without charity, and as he saw her 
in this guise he was compelled to think of his father and 
the incident of yesterday, and he could not help wonder- 



ing. He suddenly realized that what was happening 
presently in this room was happening in every house 
down the valley. Even before her coming she was being 
condemned. It was beneath the shadow of this already 
created cloud she would have to live and move and earn 
her little living in the schoolhouse of Tullahanogue. 
John Brennan began to have some pity for the girl. 

Ned Brennan now appeared at the door leading to 
the kitchen and beckoned to his wife. She went at his 
calling, and John noticed that at her return some part 
of her had fallen away. His father went from the house 
whistling at a pitch that was touched with delight. 

" Where is my father bound for?" 

"He's gone to Garradrimna, John, to order lead for 
the roof of the school. The valley behind the chimney 
is leaking again and he has to cobble it. 'Tis the great 
bother he gets with that roof, whatever sort it is. Isn't 
it a wonder now that Father O'Keeffe wouldn't put a 
new one on it, and all the money he gets so handy. . . ? " 

"My father seems to be always at that roof. He used 
to be at it when I was going to school there. " 

The words of her son came to Mrs. Brennan 's ears 
with a sound of sad complaint. It caused her to glimpse 
momentarily all the villainy of Ned Brennan towards 
her through all the years, and of how she had borne it 
for the sake of John. And here was John before her 
now becoming reverently magnified in that part of her 
mind which was a melting tenderness. It was him she 
must now save from the valley which had ruined her 
man. Thus was she fearful again and the heart within 
her caused to become troubled and to rush to and fro 
in her breast like rushing water. Then, as if her whole 


will was sped by some fearful ecstasy, she went on to 
talk in her accustomed way of every one around her, in- 
cluding the stranger who had not yet come to the val- 

It was 011 the evening of this day that Rebecca Kerr. 
the new assistant teacher, came through the village of 
Garradrimna to the valley of Tullahanogue. Paddy 
McCann drove McDennott's hackney car down past the 
old castle of the De Lacys. It carried her as passenger 
from Mullaghowen, with her battered trunk strapped 
over the well. The group of spitting idlers crowding 
around Brannagan's loudly asserted so much as Paddy 
McCann and his cargo loomed out of the shadows be- 
neath the old castle and swung into the amazing reali- 
ties of the village. It was just past ten o'clock and 
the mean place now lay amid the enclosing twilight. 
The conjunctive thirsts for drink and gossip which come 
at this hour had attacked the ejected topers, and their 
tongues began to water about the morsel now placed 
before them. 

A new schoolmistress, well, well ! Didn't they change 
them shocking often in Tullahanogue? And quare- 
looking things they were too, every one of them. And 
here was another one, not much to look at either. They 
said this as she came past. And what was her name? 
"Kerr is her name!" said some one who had heard it 
from the very lips of Father O'Keeffe himself. 

"Rebecca Kerr is her name," affirmed Farrell Mc- 
Guinness, who had just left a letter for her at the Pres- 

"Rebecca what? Kerr Kerr Kerr, is it?" sput- 
tered Padna Padna; "what for wouldn't it be Carr now, 


just common and simple? But of course Kerr has a 
ring of the quality about it. Kerr, be God!" 

These were the oracles of Garradrimna who were now 
speaking of her thus. But she had no thought of them 
at all as she glanced hurriedly at the shops and puzzled 
her brains to guess where the best draper's shop might 
be. She had a vague, wondering notion as to where she 
might get all those little things so necessary for a girl. 
She had a fleeting glimpse of herself standing outside 
one of those worn counters she was very certain existed 
somewhere in the village, talking ever so much talk with 
the faded girl who dispensed the vanities of other days, 
or else exchanging mild confidences with the vulgar and 
ample mistress of the shop, who was sure to be always 
floating about the place immensely. Yes, just there was 
the very shop with its brave selection from the fashions 
of yester-year in the fly-blown windows. 

And there was the Post Office through which her let- 
ters to link her with the outer world would come and 
go. She quickly figured the old bespectacled postmis- 
tress, already blinded partially, and bent from constant, 
anxious scrutiny, poring exultantly over the first let- 
ters that might be sent to "Miss Rebecca Kerr," and 
examining the postmark. Then the quality and gender 
of the writing, and being finally troubled exceedingly 
as to the person it could have come from sister, mother, 
brother, father, friend, or "boy." Even although the 
tall candles of Romance had long since guttered and 
gone out amid the ashes of her mind the assaulting 
suspicion that it was from "a boy" would drive her to 
turn the letter in her hand and take a look at the flap. 
Then the temptation that was a part of her life would 


prove too strong for her and a look of longing would 
come into the dull eyes as she went hobbling into the 
kitchen to place it over the boiling kettle and so em- 
bark it upon its steamy voyage to discovery. In a few 
minutes she would be reading it, her hands trembling 
as she chuckled in her obscene glee at all the noble 
sentiments it might contain. The subsequent return of 
the letter to the envelope after the addition of some 
gum from a penny bottle if the old sticking did not 
suffice. Her interludiary sigh of satisfaction when she 
remembered that one could re-stick so many opened en- 
velopes with a penny bottle of gum by using it econom- 
ically. The inevitable result of this examination, a su- 
perior look of wisdom upon the withered face when the 
new schoolmistress, Rebecca Kerr, came for the first 
time into the office to ask for a letter from her 
love. . . . But so far in her life she had formed no 
deep attachment. 

It was thus arid thus that Rebecca Kerr ran through 
her mind a few immediate sketchy realizations of this 
village in Ireland. She had lived in others, and this 
one could not be so very different. . . . There now was 
the butcher 's stall, kept filthily, where she might buy her 
bit of beef or mutton occasionally. She caught a 
glimpse of the victualler standing with his dirty wife 
amid the strong-smelling meat. The name above the 
door was that of the publichouse immediately beside it. 
A little further on, upon the same side, was the news- 
agent's and stationer's, where they sold sweets and 
everything. It was here she might buy her notepaper 
to write to her own people in Donegal, or else to some 
of her college friends with whom she still kept up a 


eorrespondence. And here also she might treat herself, 
on rare occasions, to a box of cheap chocolates, or to 
some of the injurious, colored sweets which always gave 
her the toothache, presenting the most of them, per- 
haps, to some child to whom she had taken a fancy. 

By little bits like these, which formed a series of 
flashes, she saw some aspects of the life she might lead 
here. Each separate flash left something of an impres- 
sion before it went out of her mind. 

The jingling car swung on past the various groups 
upon the street, each group twisting its head as one man 
to observe the spectacle of her passing. "That's the 
new schoolmistress!" "There she is, begad!" "I 
heard Paddy McCann saying she was coming this eve- 
ning ! ' ' She was now in line with the famous house of 
Tommy Williams, the gombeen-man. She knew from 
the look of it that it was here she must buy her few 
groceries, for this was the principal house in Garra- 
drimna and, even so far as she, the octopus of Gom- 
beenism was sure to extend itself. To be sure, the 
gombeen-man would be the father of a family, for it 
is the clear duty of such pillars of the community to 
rear up a long string of patriots. If those children 
happened to be of school-going age, it was certain they 
would not be sent to even the most convenient school 
unless the teachers dealt in the shop. This is how gom- 
beenism is made to exercise control over National Ed- 
ucation. Anyhow Rebecca Kerr was very certain that 
she must enter the various-smelling shop to discuss the 
children with the gombeen-man's wife. 

It was indeed a dreary kind of life that she would be 
compelled to lead in this place, and, as she passed the 


pretty chapel, which seemed to stand up in the sight of 
Heaven as excuse for the affront that was Garradrimna, 
she had a strange notion how she must go there some- 
times to find respite from the relentless crush of it all. 
On bitter evenings, when her mind should ring with the 
mean tumults of the life around her, it was there only 
she might go and, slipping in through the dim vestibule 
where there were many mortuary cards to remind her of 
all the dead, she would walk quickly to the last pew and, 
bending her throbbing head, pour out her soul in prayer 
with the aid of her little mother-of-pearl rosary. . . . 
They had gone a short distance past the chapel and 
along the white road towards the valley. 

"This is the place/' said Paddy McCann. 

She got down from the car wearily, and McCann 
carried her battered trunk into the house of Sergeant 
McGoldrick which had been assigned as her lodging by 
Father O'Keeffe. He emerged with a leer of expecta- 
tion upon his countenance, and she gave him a shilling 
from her little possessions. At the door she was com- 
pelled to introduce herself. 

"So you are the new teacher. Well, begad! The 
missus is up in the village. Come in. Begad!" 

He stood there, a big, ungainly man, at his own door 
as he gave the invitation, a squalling baby in his arms, 
and in went Rebecca Kerr, into the sitting-room where 
Mrs. McGoldrick made clothes for the children. The 
sergeant proceeded to do his best to be entertaining. 
She knew the tribe. He remained smoking his great 
black pipe and punctuated the squalls of the baby by 
spitting huge volumes of saliva which hit the fender 
with dull thuds, 


"It's a grand evening in the country," said Sergeant 

"Yes, a nice evening surely," said Rebecca Kerr. 

"Oh, it was a grand, lovely day in the country, the 
day. I was out in the country all through the day. I 
was collecting the census of the crops, so I was; a 
difficult and a critical job, I can tell you ! ' ' 

With an air of pride he took down the books of lists 
and showed her the columns of names and particu- 
lars. ... It was stupidly simple. Yet here was this 
hulk of a man expanding his chest because of his child- 
ish achievement. He had even stopped smoking and 
spitting to give space to his own amazement, and the 
baby had ceased mewling to marvel in infantile wonder 
at the spacious cleverness of her da. 

After nearly half an hour of this performance Mrs. 
McGoldrick bustled into the room. She was a coarse- 
looking woman, whose manner had evidently been made 
even more harsh by the severe segregation to which the 
wives of policemen are subjected. Her voice was loud 
and unmusical, and it appeared to Rebecca from the 
very first that not even the appalling cleverness of her 
husband was a barrier to her strong government of her 
own house. The sergeant disappeared immediately, 
taking the baby with him, and left the women .to their 
own company. Mrs. McGoldrick had seen the battered, 
many-corded trunk in the hall-way, and she now made 
a remark which was, perhaps, natural enough for a 
woman : 

"You haven't much luggage anyway!" was what she 

: No!" replied Rebecca dully. 

< < 


Then she allowed her head to droop for what seemed 
a long while, during all of which she was acutely con- 
scious that the woman by her side was staring at her, 
forming impressions of her, summing her up. 

fi l don't think you're as tall as Miss O 'Donovan was, 
and you haven't as nice hair!" 

Rebecca made no comment of any kind upon this 
candor, but now that the way had been opened Mrs. 
McGoldrick poured out a flood of information regarding 
the late assistant of the valley school. She was reduced 
to little pieces and, as it were, cremated in the furnace 
of this woman's mind until tiny specks of the ashes of 
her floated about and danced and scintillated before the 
tired eyes of Rebecca Kerr. 

As the heavier dusk of the short, warm night began to 
creep into the little room her soul sank slowly lower. 
She was hungry now and lonely. In the mildest way 
she distantly suggested a cup of tea, but Mrs. Mc- 
Goldrick at once resented this uncalled-for disturbance 
of her harangue by bringing out what was probably 
meant to be taken as the one admirable point in the 
other girl's character. 

"Miss 'Donovan used always get her own tea." 

But the desolating silence of Rebecca at length drove 
her towards the kitchen, and she returned, after what 
seemed an endless period, with some greasy-looking 
bread, a cup without a handle, and a teapot from which 
the tea dribbled in agony on to the tablecloth through 
a wound in its side. 

The sickening taste of the stuff that came out of the 
teapot only added to Rebecca's sinking feeling. Her 
thoughts crept ever downward. ... At last there came 


a blessed desire for sleep sleep and forgetfulness of 
this day and the morrow. Her head was already begin- 
ning to spin as she inquired for her room. 

"Your room?" exclaimed Mrs. McGoldrick in harsh 
surprise. "Why, 'tis upstairs. There's only two 
rooms there, myself and the sergeant's and the lodger's 
room that's yours. I hadn't time this week back to 
make the bed since Miss 'Donovan left, but of course 
you'll do that for yourself. The sergeant is gone up to 
the barracks, so I '11 have to help you carry up your box, 
as I suppose you'll be wanting to get out some of your 

It was a cruelly hard job getting the trunk up the 
steep staircase, but between them they managed it. Re- 
becca was not disappointed by the bare, ugly room. 
Mrs. McGoldrick closed the door behind them and stood 
in an attitude of expectation. Even in the present dull 
state of her mind Rebecca saw that her landlady was, 
with tense curiosity, awaiting the opening of the box 
which held her poor belongings. . . . Then something 
of the combative, selfish attitude of the woman to her 
kind stirred within her, and she bravely resolved to 
fight, for a short space, this prying woman who was try- 
ing to torment her soul. 

She looked at the untidied bed with the well-used 
sheets. . . . What matter? It was only the place 
whereon the body of another poor tortured creature like 
herself had lain. She would bear with this outrage 
against her natural delicacy. 

In perfect silence she took off her skirt and blouse 
and corset. She let fall her long, heavy hair and, be- 
foi-e the broken looking-glass, began to dally wearily 


with its luxuriance. This hair was very fair and price- 
less, and it was hers who had not great possessions. -Her 
shining neck and blossomy breasts showed as a pattern 
in ivory against the background that it made. . . . Some 
man, she thought, would like to see her now and love 
her maybe. Beyond this vision of herself she could see 
the ugly, anxious face of the woman behind her. She 
could feel the discord of that woman's thoughts with 
the wandering strands of withering hair. 

No word had passed between them since they came 
together into the room, and Mrs. McGoldrick, retreating 
from the situation which had been created, left with 
abruptness, closing the door loudly behind her. 

With as much haste as she could summon, Rebecca 
took off her shoes and got her night-gown out of the 
trunk. Then she threw herself into the bed. She put 
out the light and fumbled in her faded vanity bag for 
her little mother-of-pearl rosary. There was a strange 
excitement upon her, even in the final moments of her 
escape, and soon a portion of her pillow was wet with 
tears. Between loud sobs arose the sound of her prayers 
ascending : 

"Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; 
blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit 
of thy womb, Jesus. . . . Hail, Mary, full of grace, the 
Lord is with thee; blessed art thou . . . Hail, Mary, 
full of grace. . . ." 


AT tea-time Mrs. Brennan was still talking to John 
of the girl who was coming to the valley. Out- 
side the day was still full of the calm glory of summer. 
He went to the window and looked down upon the clean, 
blue stretch of the little lake. ... He had grown weary 
of his mother's talk. What possible interest could he 
have in this unknown girl? He took a book from a 
parcel on the table. With this volume in his hand and 
reading it, as he might his breviary at some future 
time, he went out and down towards the lake. On his 
way he met a few men moving to and from their tasks 
in the fields. He bade them the time of day and spoke 
about the beauty of the afternoon. As they replied a 
curious kind of smile played around their lips, and 
there was not one who failed to notice his enviable con- 
dition of idleness. 

"Indeed 'tis you that has the fine times!" "Indeed 
you might say 'tis you that has the fine times!" "Now 
isn't the learning the grand thing, to say that when you 
have it in your head you need never do a turn with 
your hands ? ' ' 

Their petty comments had the effect of filling him 
with a distracting sense of irritation, and it was some 
time before he could pick up any continued interest in 
the book. It was the story of a young priest, such as 
be might expect to be in a few years. Suddenly it ap- 


peared remarkable that he should be reading this fore- 
shadowing of his future. That he should be seeing him- 
self with all his ideas translated into reality and his 
training changed into the work for which he had been 
trained. Strange that this thought should have come 
into his mind with smashing force here now and at this 
very time. Hitherto his future had appeared as a thing 
apart from him, but now it seemed intimately bound up 
with everything he could possibly do. 

He began to see very clearly for the first time the 
reason for his mother's anxiety to keep him apart from 
the life of the valley. Did it spring directly from her 
love for him, or was it merely selfish and contributory 
to her pride? The whole burden of her talk showed 
clearly that she was a proud woman. He could never 
come to have her way of looking at things, and so he 
now felt that if he became a priest it was she and not 
himself who would have triumphed. . . . He was still 
reading the book, but it was in a confused way and with 
little attention. The threads of the story had become 
entangled somehow with the threads of his own story. 
. . . Occasionally his own personality would cease to 
dominate it, and the lonely woman in the cottage, his 
mother sitting in silence at her machine, would become 
the principal character. . . . The hours went past him 
as he pondered. 

The evening shadows had begun to steal down from 
the hills. The western sky was like the color of a golden 
chalice. Men were coming home weary from the labor 
of the fields ; cows were moving towards field gates with 
wise looks in their eyes to await the milking; the young 
calves were lowing for their evening meal. The quiet 


fir trees, which had slept all through the day, now 
seemed to think of some forgotten trust and were like 
vigilant sentries all down through the valley of Tulla- 

Suddenly the eyes of John Brennan were held by a 
splendid picture. The sweep of the Hill of Annus lay 
outlined in all the wonder of its curve, and, on the ridge 
of it, moving with humped body, was Shamesy Golliher, 
the most famous drunkard of the valley. He passed 
like a figure of destruction above the valley against the 
sunset. John smiled, for he remembered him and his 
habits, as both were known far and wide. He was now 
going towards a certain wood where the rabbits were 
plentiful. His snares were set there. The thin, pitiful 
cry of the entrapped creature now split the stillness, 
and the man upon the sweep of the world began to 
move with a more determined stride. . . . John Bren- 
nan, his mind quickening towards remembrance of in- 
cidents of his boyhood, knew that the cunning of 
Shamesy Golliher had triumphed over the cunning of 
the rabbits. Their hot little eager bodies must soon be 
sold for eightpence apiece and the money spent on por- 
ter in Garradrimna. It was strange to think of this 
being the ultimate fate of the rabbits that had once 
frisked so innocently over the green spaces of the woods. 
. . . He listened, with a slight turn of regret stirring 
him, until the last squeal had been absorbed by the still- 
ness. Then he arose and prepared to move away from 
the lake. He was being filled by a deadly feeling of 
sadness. Hitherto the continuous adventure of adoles- 
cence had sustained him, but now he was a man and 
thinking of his future. 


On his way across the sweep of the hill he encountered 
Shamesy Golliher. The famous drunkard was laden 
with the rabbits he had just taken from the snares. 
The strength of his thirst had also begun to attack him, 
so that by reason of both defects his legs now bent un- 
der him weakly as he walked. Yet his attitude did not 
suggest defeat, for he had never failed to maintain his 
reputation in the valley. He was the local bard, the 
satiric poet of the neighborhood. He was the only in- 
habitant of the valley who continually did what he 
pleased, for he throve within the traditional Gaelic 
dread of satire. No matter how he debased himself no 
man or woman dared talk of it for fear they might be 
made the subject of a song to be ranted in the tap- 
rooms of Garradrimna. And he was not one to respect 
the feelings of those whom he put into his rimes, for 
all of them were conceived in a mood of ribald and 
malignant glee. 

"Me sound man John, how are ye?" he said, extend- 
ing a white, nervous hand. 

"I'm very well, thanks; and how are you, Shamesy?" 

"Ah, just only middling. I don't look the very best 
You'll excuse me not being shaved. But that's on ac- 
count of the neuralgia. God blast it! it has me near 
killed. It has the nerves destroyed on me. Look at 
me hand." ... It was the idiosyncrasy of Shamesy 
Golliher to assert that drink was no part of his life. 

Immediately he dropped into his accustomed vein. 
He gazed down the Hill of Annus and found material 
for his tongue. There were the daughters of Hughie 
Murtagh. They had no brother, and were helping their 
father in the fields. 


" Them's the men, them's the men!" said Shamesy, 
11 though glory be to God! 'twill be the hard case with 
them when they come to be married, for sure you 
wouldn't like to marry a man, now would you? And 
for pity's sake will you look at Oweneen Kiernan, the 
glutton ! I hear he ate five loaves at the ball in Ballina- 
mult; and as sure as you're there that powerful re- 
past '11 have to be made the material for a song." 

A loud laugh sprang from the lips of Shamesy 
Golliher and floated far across the lake, and John Bren- 
nan was immediately surprised to find himself laughing 
in the same way. 

The rimer was still pursuing Oweneen down the field 
of his mind. 

"Aye, and I thank ye, ye '11 see him doing his best 
after the new schoolmistress that's coming to us this 
evening. There's a great look-out, I can tell you, to 
see what kind she'll be. Indeed the last one wasn't 
much. Grand-looking whipsters, moryah! to be teach- 
ing the young idea. Indeed I wouldn't be at all sur- 
prised to see one of them going away from here some- 
time and she in the family way, although may God 
pardon me for alluding to the like and I standing in 
the presence of the makings of a priest!" 

John Brennan felt himself blushing ever so slightly. 

"And who d'ye think was in Garradrimna this even- 
ing? Why Ulick Shannon, and he a big man. Down 
to stop with his uncle Myles he is for a holiday. He 
wasn't here since he was a weeshy gosoon; for, what 
d'ye think, didn't his mother and father send him away 
to Dublin to be nursed soon after he was born and never 
seemed to care much about him afterwards; but they 


were the quare pair, and it was no good end that hap- 
pened to themselves, for Henry Shannon and the girl he 
married, Grace Gogarty, both died within the one year. 
He in the full pride of his red life, and she while she 
was gallivanting about the country wearing mourning 
for him and looking for another husband that she never 
got before she went into the clay. Well, to make a long 
story short, Myles Shannon looked after the orphan, 
paying for his rearing and his education, and having 
him live as a gentleman in Dublin until now he's a 
great-looking fellow entirely, and going on, I suppose, 
for Doctoring, or the Law, or some other profitable 
devilment like that. The Shannons were always an 
unlucky family, but maybe Ulickll break the black 
curse, although I don't know, for he's the very spit and 
image of his father and able to take his drink like a 
good one, I can tell ye. This evening he came into Mc- 
Dermott's. There was no one there but meself, it being 
the high evening, so says he to me : 

"'Whatllye have?' 

" ' Begad, Mr. Shannon,' says I, '111 have a pint. 
And more power to ye, sir!' says I, although I was 
grinning to meself all the time, for I couldn't help 
thinking that he was only the son of Henry Shannon, 
one of the commonest blackguards that ever disgraced 
this part of the country. You didn't know him, but 
your mother could tell you about him. You might 
swear your mother could tell you about him ! ' ' 

John Brennan did not notice the light of merriment 
which overspread the face of Shamesy Golliher, for he 
was looking down towards the hush of the lake, and ex- 
periencing a certain feeling of annoyance that this 


young man should be becoming gradually introduced 
to him in this way. But iShainesy was still speaking: 

' * He stood me four pints and two glasses, and nothing 
would do him when he was going away but he should 
buy me a whole glass of whiskey. He 's what you might 
call a gay fellow, I can tell you. And God save us! 
isn't it grand to be that way, even though you never 
earned it, and not have to be getting your drink like 
me be nice contriving among the small game of the 

They parted in silence, Shamesy Golliher going east- 
ward towards Garradrimna and John Brennan in the 
opposite direction and towards his mother's house. His 
mind had begun to slip into a condition of vacancy when 
an accident happened to turn it again in the direction 
of religion. As he came out upon the road he passed 
a group of children playing between two neighboring 
houses. The group was made up of the children of 
two families, the O'Briens and the Vaughans. It was 
said of Mrs. Vaughan that although she had been mar- 
ried by Father 'Keeffe, and went to Mass every second 
Sunday, she still clung to the religion into which she 
had been born. Now her eldest child, a pretty, fair- 
haired boy, was in the midst of the O'Briens' children. 
Their mother was what you might call a good woman, 
for, although she had the most slovenly house along 
the valley road, she went to Mass as often as Mrs. Bren- 
nan. They were making the innocent child repeat 
phrases out of their prayers and then laughing and 
mocking him because he could not properly pronounce 
the long words. They were trying to make him bless 
himself, but the hands of little Edward could not mas- 


ter the gestures of the formula, and they were jeering 
at him for his ill-success. When he seemed just upon 
the verge of tears they began to ask him questions in 
the answers to which he would seem to have been well 
trained aforetime, for he repeated them with glibness 
and enjoyment. 

"What religion are ye?" 

"I'm a little black Protestant." 

"And where will ye go when ye die?" 

"I'll go to hell." 

"What 'shell?" 

"A big place bigger than the chapel or the church, 
with a terrible, grand fire in it." 

"And what is it full of?" 

"Its full of little fellows like me!" 

This was the melancholy piece of catechism John 
Brennan was constrained to hear as he went past. 

It added the last wave of sadness to the gray mood 
which had been descending upon him by degrees since 
the beginning of the day. . . . He stood upon the road 
and listened for anything in the nature of a sound which 
might connect his mind with a thought that had some 
brightness. Although only a few days had elapsed 
since his return his ears were already beginning to re- 
develop that delicate perception of slight sounds which 
comes to one in the quiet places. He now heard a car 
come through Garradrimna and move a short distance 
down the valley road. That, he thought, should be 
Paddy McCann driving the new mistress to her lodging 
in the house of Sergeant McGoldrick. 

The small realization held occupation of his mind as 


he went into the house of his mother. He was surprised 
to find that it was past ten. Still lonely as he went to 
his room, he thought once more of the kind invitation 
of Mr. Myles Shannon. 


MYLES SHANNON had ever borne a passionate 
grudge against Mrs. Brennan. He had loved 
his brother Henry, and he felt that she, of all people, 
had had the most powerful hand in instituting the re- 
morse which had hurried him to his doom. Mrs. Bren- 
nan, on the other hand, believed firmly that Henry 
Shannon would have married her, and made of her a 
decent woman, but for the intervention of his brother 
Myles. Furthermore, she believed darkly in her heart 
that the subtle plan of the disastrous " honeymoon" had 
originated in the brain of Myles, although in this she 
was wrong. She thought of Henry as being never of 
that sort. He was wild and mad, with nothing too 
hot or too heavy for him, but he was not one to concoct 
schemes. So, when Henry died, Mrs. Brennan had 
thought well to transmit her hatred of the Shannon 
family to his brother Myles. 

Myles Shannon lived a quiet life there in his big 
house among the trees upon the side of Scarden, one of 
the hills which overlooked the valley. In lonely, silent 
moments he often thought of his brother Henry and of 
the strange manner in which he had burned out his 
life. With the end of his brother before him always 
as a deterrent example, he did not interest himself in 
women. He interested himself in the business of his 
cattle and sheep all through each and every day of the 



year. He did not feel the years slipping past him as 
he went about his easy, contented life, watching, with 
great interest, his beef and mutton grow up in the fields. 

The cattle in particular stood for the absorbing in- 
terest and the one excitement of his life. He looked 
upon his goings and comings to and from the markets 
at Dublin and at Wakefield in England as holiday ex- 
cursions of great enjoyment. 

It was during one of his trips to England that he had 
met Helena Cooper at some hotel in Manchester. He 
was one to whom the powers of Romance had remained 
strangers, yet now, when they at last came into his life, 
it was with a force that carried away all the protection 
of his mind. He wanted some one to fill the loneliness 
of the big house on Scarden Hill, and so he set his heart 
upon Helena Cooper. 

He returned to the valley a different man. Quite 
suddenly he began to have a greater interest in his ap- 
pearance, and it was noticed that he grew sentimental 
and became easy in his dealings. It began to be whis- 
pered around that, even so late in life, almost at the 
close of the middle period which surely marks the end 
of a man's prime, Myles Shannon had fallen in love 
and was about to be married. 

It was a notable rumor, and although it was fifteen 
years since the death of Henry Shannon, Mrs. Brennan, 
as one having a good reason to be interested in the 
affairs of the Shannon family, became excited. 

''Indeed it was high time for him to think of it," she 
said to a neighbor one Sunday morning, "before he 
turned into a real ould blackguard of a bachelor and 
who d'ye say the girl is?" 


"Why, then, they say she's an English lady, and that 
she's grand and young 1 . " 

Mrs. Brennan was a great one for " ferreting-out " 
things. Once she had set her mind upon knowing a 
thing, there was little possibility of preventing her. 
And now she was most anxious to know whom Myles 
Shannon was about to marry. So when she saw the old 
bent postmistress taking the air upon the valley road 
later on in the day she brought her into the sewing-room 
and, over a cup of tea, proceeded to satisfy her curiosity. 

" There must be letters?" she said after they had 
come round to a discussion of the rumored marriage. 

"Oh, yes, indeed. There's letters coming and going, 
coming and going," the old lady wheezed. "A nice- 
looking ould codger, isn't he, to be writing letters to a 
young girl?" 

"And how d'ye know she's young?" 

"How do I know, is it, how do I know? Well, well, 
isn't that my business? To know and to mind." 

"You're a great woman. 5 ' 

"I do my duty, that's all, Mrs. Brennan, as sure as 
you're there. And d'ye imagine for a moment I was 
going to let Myles Shannon pass, for all he's such a 
great swank of a farmer? She is a young girl." 

"Well, well?" 

"There's no reason to misdoubt me in the least, for 
I saw her photo and it coming through the post." 

"A big, enlarged photo, I suppose?" 

"Aye, the photo of a young girl in her bloom/ ' 

"I suppose she's very nice?" 

"She's lovely, and 'tis what I said to myself as I 
looked upon her face, that it would be the pity of the 


world to see her married to a middling ould fellow like 
Myles Shannon." 

"And I suppose, now, that she has a nice name?" 

''Aye. It is that. And what you might call a grand 
name. ' ' 

A long pause now fell between the two women, as if 
both were endeavoring to form in their minds some 
great resolve to which their hearts were prompting 
them. The old postmistress delivered her next speech 
in a whisper: 

"Her name is Helena Cooper, and her address is 15 
Medway Avenue, Manchester!" 

The two women now nudged one another in simultan- 
eous delight. Mrs. Brennan ran the direction over and 
over in her mind as if suddenly fearful that some dread- 
ful stroke of forgetfulness might come to overthrow 
her chance of revenge upon her false, dead lover 
through the great injury she now contemplated doing 
to his brother. . . . She made an excuse of going to the 
kitchen to put more water upon the teapot and, when 
she went there, scribbled the name and address upon 
the wall beside the fireplace. 

When she returned to the sewing-room the old post- 
mistress was using her handkerchief to hide the smile 
of satisfaction which was dancing around her mouth. 
She knew what was just presently running through Mrs. 
Brennan 's mind, and she was glad and thankful that 
she herself was about to be saved the trouble of writing 
to Miss Cooper. . . . Her hand was beginning to be 
quavery and incapable of writing a hard, vindictive 
letter. Besides that Mr. Shannon was an influential 
man in the district, and the Post Office was not above 


suspicion. She was thankful to Mrs. Brennan now, 
and said the tea was nice, very nice. 

Yet, immediately that the information, for which she 
had hungered since the rumor of Myles Shannon's 
marriage began to go the rounds, was in her keeping, 
Mrs. Brennan ceased to display any unusual interest 
in the old, bespectacled maid. Nor did the postmistress 
continue to be excited by the friendly presence of Mrs. 
Brennan, for she, on her part, was immensely pleased 
and considered that the afternoon had attained to a re- 
markable degree of success. . . . From what she had 
read of her productions passing through the post, she 
knew that Mrs. Brennan was the woman could write the 
strong, poisonous letter. Besides, who had a better 
right to be writing it about one of the Shannon fam- 

Soon she was going out the door and down the white 
road towards Garradrimna. . . . Now wasn't Mrs. 
Brennan the anxious and the prompt woman ; she would 
be writing to Miss Cooper this very evening? ... As 
she went she met young couples on bicycles passing to 
distant places through the fragrant evening. The 
glamor of Romance seemed to hang around them. 

"Now isn't that the quare way for them to be spend- 
ing the Sabbath?" she said to herself as she hobbled 

The Angelus was just beginning to ring out across 
the waving fields with its sweet, clear sound as Mrs. 
Brennan regained the sewing-room after having seen 
her visitor to the door, but, good woman though she was, 
she did not stop to answer its holy summons. Her mind 
was driving her relentlessly towards the achievement of 


her intention. The pen was already in her hand, and 
she was beginning to scratch out "a full account," as 
she termed it, of Mr. Myles Shannon for the benefit of 
Miss Helena Cooper, whoever she might be. Through 
page after page she continued her attack while the fire 
of her hate was still burning brightly through her will. 

It had been her immemorial custom to send full ac- 
counts abroad whenever one of the valley dwellers made 
attempts at assertion, but not one of the Shannons had 
so far offered her such a golden opportunity. For the 
moment she was in her glory. 

She announced herself as a good friend of this girl, 
whose name she had only heard just now. She wrote 
that she would not like to see Miss Cooper deceived by 
a man she had no opportunity of knowing in his real 
character, such as Mr. Shannon. 

Now it was a fact that Myles, unlike his brother 
Henry, had not been a notable antagonist of the Com- 
mandments. It was true, of course, that he was not 
distinguished for the purity of his ways when he went 
adventuring about the bye-ways of Dublin after a day 
at the cattle market, and people from the valley, crop- 
ping up most unexpectedly, had witnessed some of his 
exploits and had sent magnified stories winging afar. 
But he had ruined no girl, and was even admirable in 
his habits when at home in his lonely house among the 

This, however, was not the Mr. Shannon that Mrs. 
Brennan set down in her letter to Helena Cooper. It 
was rather the portrait of his brother Henry, the wild 
libertine, that she painted, for, in the high moments 
of her hate, she was as one blinded by the ecstasy that 


had come upon her. The name of Shannon held for her 
only one significance, and, for the moment, it was an 
abysmal vision which dazzled her eyes. 

Soon there came a communication from Miss Cooper 
to Mr. Shannon which had the effect of nipping his 
green romance while it was still young. ... It asked 
him was this true and was that true? . . . The easy, 
sentimental way he had looked upon the matter was 
suddenly kindled into a deeper feeling, and he thought 
of having the girl now at all costs. ... He wrote a 
fine reply in justification. It was a clear, straight piece 
of writing, and, although it pained him greatly, he was 
compelled to admit that the statements about which 
Miss Cooper wished to be satisfied were no more than 
the truth in relation to a certain member of the Shan- 
non family. But they related to his dead brother 
Henry and not to him. ... He prayed the forgiveness 
of forgetfulness for the dead. . . . He volunteered the 
production of convincing proof for every statement here 
made in regard to himself. 

But the old lady at the Post Office had something to 
say in the matter. She had read Miss Cooper's letter, 
and as she now read the letter of Mr. Shannon she knew 
that should it reach her this girl must be fully satisfied 
as to his character, for his was a fine piece of plead- 
ing. . . . But she could not let Mrs. Breniian have all 
the secret satisfaction for the destruction of his love- 
affair. The bitter woman in the valley had done the 
ugly, obvious part of the work, but she was in a position 
to hurry it to secret, deadly completion. ... So that 
evening the letter, which it had given Myles Shannon 
such torture to write, was burned at the fire in the 


kitchen behind the Post Office. ... He wrote to Helena 
Cooper again and yet again, but the same thing hap- 
pened. . . . His third letter had turned purely pathetic 
in its tone. The old lady said to herself that it made 
her laugh like anything. 

At last he fell to considering that her affection for 
him could not have been very deep seeing that she had 
allowed it to be so strongly influenced by some poison- 
ous letter from an anonymous enemy. . . . Yet there 
were moments when he knew that he could never for- 
get her nor escape, through all the years he might live, 
from the grand dream her first tenderness had raised 
up in his heart. In its immediate aspect he was a little 
angry that the rumor of a contemplated marriage on 
his part should have gone abroad. But he had almost 
triumphed over this slight feeling of annoyance when 
there came to him, some month later, the ' * account ' ' that 
had been written about him to Miss Cooper without a 
word of comment enclosed. . . . The old lady at the 
office had seen to that, for the letter accompanying it 
as far as Garradrimna had gone the way of Mr. Shan- 
non's letters. . . . This had made her laugh also with 
its note of wonder as to why he had made no attempt 
to explain. ... If only he would say that the state- 
ments made against him were all mere lies. Of course 
she did not believe a word of them, but she wished him 
to say so in a letter to her. . . . The Post Office was 
saved from suspicion by this second bit of destruction, 
although it had done its work well. 

The bare, scurrilous note caused a blaze of indigna- 
tion turning to hatred to take possession of his soul 
which had hitherto been largely distinguished by kindly 


influences. He had his suspicions at once that it was 
the work of Mrs. Brennan. 

There was a letter of hers locked in a bureau in the 
parlor with other things which had been the property 
of his dead brother Henry. They were all sad things 
which related intimately to the queer life he had led. 
This old faded letter from Nan Byrne was the one she 
had written asking him for Christ's sake to niarry her, 
now that she felt her misfortune coming upon her. . . . 
A hard look came into his eyes as he began to compare 
the weak handwriting. Yes, it was hers surely, be- 
yond a shadow of doubt. . . . He locked this thing 
which had so changed the course of his life with the 
things of his brother. 

It was queer, he thought, that she, of all people, who 
should be prone to silence, had thought fit, after the 
passage of so many years, to meddle with dead things 
in the hope of ending other dreams which, until now, 
had lived brightly. He continued to brood himself 
into bitter determinations. He resolved that, as no 
other girl had come greatly into his life before the com- 
ing of Helena Cooper, no other one must enter now that 
she was gone. She was gone, and must the final dis- 
aster of his affections narrow down to a mere piece of 
sentimental renunciation? Strange, contradictory at- 
titudes built themselves up in his mind. 

Out of his brooding there grew before him the struc- 
ture of a plan. This woman had besmirched his 
brother, helping him towards the destruction of his life, 
for it was in this light, as a brother, he had viewed the 
matter always; and now, in her attempt to besmirch 


himself, she had spoiled his dream. He had grown 
angry after the slow fashion which was the way of his 
thought, but his resolve was now sure and deliberate. 

There was her son! He had just gone to some kind 
of college in England to prepare for the priesthood, and 
the antecedents of a priest must be without blemish. 
It was not the youth's fault, but his mother was Nan 
Byrne, and some one must pay. . . . And why should 
she desire to bring punishment of any kind upon him 
for his brother's sin with her? He had loved his 
brother, and it was only natural to think that she loved 
her son. And through that love might come the deso- 
lation of her heart. To allow the blossom to brighten 
in her eye and then, suddenly, to wither it at a blast. 
To permit this John Brennan to approach the sacred 
portals of the priesthood and then to cause him to be 
cast adrift. 

The thought of how he might put a more delicate 
turn to the execution of his plan had come to him as he 
journeyed down from Dublin with John Brennan. He 
knew that his nephew, Ulick, had lived the rather reck- 
less student life of Dublin. Just recently he had been 
drawing him out. But he was no weakling, and it was 
not possible that any of those ways might yet submerge 
him. However, his influence acting upon a weaker 
mind might have effect and produce again the degener- 
ate that had not fully leaped to life in him. If he were 
brought into contact with John Breunan it might be 
the means of effecting, in a less direct way, the result 
which must be obtained. 

It was with this thought simmering in his brain that 


Myles Shannon had invited John Brennan to the friend- 
ship and company of his nephew. When he had spoken 
of the Great War it was the condition of his own mind 
that had prompted the thought, for it was filled with 
the impulse of destruction. 


IT is on his passage through the village of Garra- 
drimna that we may most truly observe John Bren- 
nan, in sharp contrast with his dingy environment, as 
he goes to hear morning Mass at the instigation of his 
mother, whose pathetic fancy fails to picture him in any 
other connection. It is a beautiful morning, and the 
sun is already high. There is a clean freshness upon 
all things. The tall trees which form a redeeming 
background for the uneven line of the ugly houses on 
the western side of the street are flinging their rich 
raiment wildly upon the light breeze where it floats like 
the decorative garments of a ballet dancer. The light 
winds are whipping the lightness of the morning. 

The men of drink are already stirring about in an- 
ticipation. Hubert Manning is striking upon the door 
of Flynn's, the grocery establishment, which, in the 
heavy blindness of his thirst, he takes to be one of the 
seven publichouses of Garradrimna. He is running 
about like some purged sinner, losing patience at last 
hard by the Gate of Heaven. In the course of her in- 
clusive chronicles his mother had told John Brennan 
the life history of Hubert Manning. For sixty odd 
years he had bent his body in hard battle with the clay, 
until the doubtful benefit of a legacy had come to change 
the current of his life. The fortune, with its sudden 
diversion towards idleness and enjoyment, had caused 



all the latent villainy of the man, which the soil had 
subdued, to burst forth with violence. He was now a 
drunken old cur whom Sergeant McGoldrick caused to 
spend a fortune in fines. 

"Just imagine the people who do be left the money!" 
said Mrs. Brennan, as she told the story. 

John Brennan passes on. He meets the bill-poster, 
Thomas James. His dark, red face displays an im- 
mense anxiety. He is going for his first pint with a 
pinch of salt held most carefully in his hand. His pres- 
ent condition is a fact to be deplored, for he was famous 
in his time and held the record in Garradrimria for fast 
drinking of a pint. He could drink twenty pints in 
a day. Hence his decline and the pinch of salt now 
held so carefully in his hand. This is to keep down 
the first pint, and if the operation be safely effected it 
is quite possible that the other nineteen will give him 
no trouble. 

Coming in the valley road are Shamesy Golliher and 
Martin Cormell. In the distance they appear as small, 
shrinking figures, moving in abasement beneath the 
Gothic arches of the elms. They represent the advance 
guard of those who leave the sunlit fields on a summer 
morning to come into the dark, cavernous pubs of 

On the side of the street, distant from that upon 
which John Brennan is walking, moves the famous fig- 
ure of Padna Padna, slipping along like some spirit of 
discontent and immortal longing, doomed forever to 
wander. He mistakes the student for one of the priests 
and salutes him by tipping his great hat lightly with 
his little fore-finger. 


And here comes yet another, this one with speed and 
determination in his stride, for it is Anthony Shaugh- 
ness, who has spent three-fourths of his life running 
away from Death. 

"Will you save a life; will you save a life?" he 
whispers wildly, clutching John by the arm. "I have 
a penny, but sure a penny is no good, sir; and I want 
tuppence-ha'penny to add to it for the price of a pint; 
but sure you won't mind when it's to save my life! I 
know you'll give it to me for the love of God!" 

This is a very well-known request in the mouth of 
Anthony Shaughness, and John Brennan has attended 
it so very often during the past few years as to deserve 
a medal for life-saving. Yet he now takes the coppers 
from his small store of pocket-money and gives them to 
the dipsomaniac, who moves rapidly in the direction of 
1 'The World's End." 

There is presently an exciting interlude. They are 
just opening up at Brannagan's as he goes past. The 
sleepy-looking barmaid has come to the newly-opened 
door, and makes an ungraceful gesture in gathering up 
her ugly dishevelled hair. A lout of a lad with a dirty 
cigarette in his mouth appears suddenly. They begin 
to grin at one another in foolish rapture, for it is a 
lovers' meeting. Through the doorway at which they 
stand the smell of stale porter is already assaulting the 
freshness of the morning. They enter the bar surrep- 
titiously and John Brennan can hear the swish of a 
pint in the glass in which it is being filled. The usual 
morning gift, he thinks, with which this maiden favors 
this gallant lover of a new Romance. . . . There comes 
to him suddenly the idea that his name has been men- 


tioned in this dark place just now. . . . He goes on 
Walking quickly towards the chapel. 

The plan which Myles Shannon had originated was 
not lacking in subtlety. He foresaw a certain clash of 
character, between his nephew and the son of Nan 
Byrne, which must become most interesting as he 
watched it out of his malevolence. He could never, 
never, forget what she had done. . . . And always, be- 
yond the desolation which appeared from concentra- 
tion of his revengeful intentions, he beheld the ruins 
of her son. 

He often thought it puzzling how she should never 
have imagined that some one like him might be tempted 
to do at some time what he was now about to do. It 
seemed remarkable beyond all else that her mind should 
possess such an opaque oneness of purpose, such an ex- 
traordinary " thickness/ ' to use the term of the valley. 

Yet this was a quality peculiar to the gentle hush of 
the grassy places. It seemed to arise from the removal 
of an intelligent feeling of humanity from the conduct 
of life and the replacement of it by a spitefulness that 
killed and blinded. It was the explanation of many of 
the tragedies of the valley. Like a malignant wind, it 
warped the human growth Within the valley's confines. 
It was what had happened to Mrs. Brennan and, because 
of the action he was taking in regard to her, what was 
now about to happen to Myles Shannon. He seemed to 
forget, as he went about his vengeance, that subtlety is 
akin to humor, and that humor, in its application to 
the satiric perception of things, is the quality which 
constantly heals the cut it has made. He might cer- 


tainly leave the mark of his vengeance upon Mrs. Bren- 
nan, but there was the danger of the weapon recoiling 
upon himself and his kinsman. It was a horrible plan 
indeed, this, of setting one young man to ruin another. 
It was such a conflict, with such an anticipated ending, 
as had shaped itself inevitably out of the life of the 
valley. Where life was an endless battle of conflicting 
characters and antagonized dispositions it seemed par- 
ticularly meet that a monumental conflict should at last 
have been instituted. 

Ulick Shannon was finding the valley very little to his 
mind. But for the intervention of his uncle he was 
several times upon the point of returning to Dublin. 
Although it was for a rest he had come the place was 
too damnably dull. Garradrimna was an infernal hole ! 
Yet he went there often, and it was remarkable that his 
uncle said never a word when he arrived home from 
the village, several nights, in a condition that was not 
one of absolute sobriety. On the contrary, he seemed 
to take a certain joyful interest in such happenings. 
His uncle often spoke of the young man, John Bren- 
nan, whom he desired him to meet, and it was surpris- 
ing that this young man had not made the visit he had 
promised to the house among the trees. 

Myles Shannon was beginning to be annoyed by the 
appearance of this slight obstruction in the path of his 
plan. Had Mrs. Brennan forbidden the friendship he 
had proposed? It was very like her indeed, and of 
course she had her reasons. . . . But it would never do 
to let her triumph over him now, and he having such a 
lovely plan. He would go so far as to send his nephew 


to call at her house to make the acquaintance of Nan 
Byrne's son. It would be queer surely to see him call- 
ing at that house and inquiring for John Brennan when 
his father had gone there aforetime to see John Bren- 
nan 's mother. But how was Ulick to know and view 
from such an angle this aspect of his existence? 

Yet, after all, the meeting of John Brennan and Ulick 
Shannon happened quite accidentally and upon such a 
morning as we have seen John in Garradrimna. 

Ulick had gone for a walk around that way before 
his breakfast. He was not feeling particularly well as 
he paused at the end of the valley road to survey the 
mean street of Garradrimna, down which he had 
marched last night with many a wild thought rushing 
into his mind as the place and the people fell far be- 
neath his high gaze. 

His quick eye caught sight of something now which 
seemed a curiously striking piece in the drab mosaic of 
his morning. It was a little party of four going to- 
wards the chapel. The pair in front could possibly be 
none other than the bridegroom and his bride. It was 
easy to see that marriage was their purpose from the 
look of open rapture upon their faces. The bridesmaid 
and the best man were laughing and chatting gaily as 
they walked behind them. They seemed to be having 
the best of it. 

Ulick thought it interesting to see this pair moving 
eagerly towards a mysterious purpose. . . . He was 
struck by the fact that it was a most merciful thing 
that all men do not lift the veil of life so early as he 
had done. . . . The harsh, slight laugh which came 


from him was like the remembered laughter of a dead 

Now that his eyes were falling, with an unfilled look, 
upon the street along which the four had gone he began 
to see people who had been looking out move away from 
the squinting windows and a few seconds later come 
hurriedly out of their houses and go towards the chapel. 

The poor, self-conscious clod, who had dearly desired 
to marry the girl of his fancy quietly and with no pry- 
ing eyes, amid the fragrance of the fine June morning, 
had, after all, succeeded only in drawing about him the 
leering attention of all the village. There were ever so 
many people going towards the chapel this morning. 
The lot was large enough to remind one of a Sunday 
congregation at either Mass, this black drove now mov- 
ing up the laneway. Ulick Shannon went forward to 
join it. 

Coming near the chapel he encountered a young man 
in black, who wore the look of a student. This must be 
John Brennan, he thought, of whom his uncle had so 
repeatedly spoken. He turned and said: 

"Good morning! I'm Ulick Shannon, and I fancy 
you're Brennan, the chap my uncle has talked of so 
often. He has been expecting you to call at Scarden 
House/ 7 

They shook hands. 

"Yes, I'm John Brennan, and I'm delighted to meet 
you. I have not forgotten your uncle's kind invita- 

Together they entered the House of God. . . . Father 
O'Keeffe was already engaged in uniting the couple. 


Distantly they could hear him mumbling the words of 
the ceremony. . . . All eyes were upon the priest and 
the four people at the altar. . . . Suddenly Ulick 
giggled openly, and John Brennan blushed in confu- 
sion, for this was irreverence such as he had never be- 
fore experienced in the presence of sacred things. 


NEXT day Ulick Shannon made a call upon John 
Brennan and invited him for a drive. Outside 
upon the road Charlie Clarke's motor was snorting and 
humming. Ulick had learned to drive a car in Dublin, 
and had now hired Mr. Clarke's machine for the day. 

"You see," he said airily, "that I have dispensed with 
the sanctimonious Charlie and am driving myself. 
Meaning no respect to you, Brennan, one approach to 
a priest is as much as I can put up with at a time." 

Mrs. Brennan had come to the window, which looked 
out upon the little garden wicket by which they were 
standing. . . . Her eyes were dancing and wild 
thoughts were rushing into her mind. . . . Here, at last, 
was the achieved disaster and the sight her eyes had 
most dreaded to see her son and the son of Henry 
Shannon talking together as brothers. 

An ache that was akin to hunger seemed to have 
suddenly attacked her. Her lips became parched and 
dry and her jaws went through the actions of swallow- 
ing although there was nothing in her mouth. Then 
she felt herself being altogether obliterated as she stood 
there by the window. She was like a wounded bird 
that had broken itself in an attempt to attain to the sun- 
light beyond. . . . And to think that it had fallen at 
last, this shadow of separation from her lovely son. 
John came to the door and called in: 



"I'm going for a drive in the motor with Mr. Shan- 
non, mother.'' 

These were his very words, and they caused her to 
move away towards the sewing-room with the big tears 
gathering into her eyes. From her seat she saw her 
son take up his proud position by the side of Ulick 
Shannon. There was something for you, now! Her 
son driving in a motor car with a young man who was 
going on to be a doctor, in the high noon of a working 
day, all down through the valley of Tullahanogue. If 
only it happened to be with any other one in the 
whole world. What would all the people say but what 
they must say ? . . . She saw the two students laughing 
just before the car started as if some joke had suddenly 
leaped into being between them. 

Ned Brennan came into the room. He had been 
making an effort to do something in the garden when 
the car had distracted him from his task. Well, that 
was what you might call a grand thing ! While he was 
here digging in his drought, his son, I thank ye, going 
off to drive in a motor with a kind of a gentleman. His 
mind went swiftly moving towards a white heat of 
temper which must be eventually cooled in the black 
pools of Garradrimna. He came into the room, a great 
blast of a man in his anger, his boots heavy with the 
clay of the garden. 

"Well, be the Holy Farmer! that's the grand turn- 
out! . . . But sure they're a kind of connections, don't 
you know, and I suppose 'tis only natural?" 

Great God! He had returned again to this, and to 
the words she feared most of all to hear falling from 
his mouth. 


"A curious attraction, don't you know, that the 
breed of the Byrnes always had for the breed of the 
Shannons. Eh, Nan?" 

Mrs. Brennan said nothing. It had been the way 
with her that she felt a certain horror of Ned when he 
came to her in this state, but now she was being moved 
by a totally different feeling. She was not without a 
kind of pity for him as she suddenly realized once more 
how she had done him a terrible and enduring in- 
jury. ... As he stood there glowering down upon her 
he was of immense bulk and significance. If he struck 
her now she would not mind in the least. 

"And they're like one another too, them two chaps, 
as like as brothers. And mebbe they are brothers. 
Eh, Nan, eh; what happened the child you had for 
Henry Shannon? It died, did it? Why 'tis only the 
other night that Larry Cully came at me again about 
it in Garradrimna. 'I .see you have your sons home 
about you/ says he, 'and that must be the great com- 
fort to a man, your son John,' says he, 'and your son 
Ulick. Maybe ye never heard tell,' says he, 'that Grace 
Gogarty's child died young and that Henry Shannon 
bought his other son from his other mother-in-law to 
prevent it being a rising disgrace to him. Bought it 
for a small sum,' says he, 'and put it in the place of 
his lawful son, and his wife never suspected anything 
until the day she died, poor woman; for she was to be 
pitied, having married such a blackguard.' Is that 
true, is it, Nan?" 

Oh, Blessed Mother ! this was even more terrible than 
the suspicion Marse Prendergast had put upon her. It 
seemed less of a crime that the little innocent babe should 


have been murdered in this house and buried in the 
garden than that her old, dead mother should have sold 
it to Henry Shannon. And how was she to know? 
Twenty-five years had passed since that time when she 
had been at Death's door, nor realizing anything. . . . 
And her mother had never told her. ... It would be 
strange if she had gone digging at any time for the 
tiny bones of the little infant that had never been bap- 
tized. People passing the road might suspect her pur- 
pose and say hard things. . . . But sure they said hard 
things of her still after all the years. It was dreadful 
to think how any one could concoct a lie like this, and 
that no one could forget. Old Marse Prendergast knew 
well. Deep in her wicked mind, for twenty-five years, 
the secret had been hidden. It was a torture to think 
of the way she would be hinting at it forever. . . . And 
just quite recently she had threatened to tell John. 

Bit by bit was being erected in her mind the terrible 
speculation as to what really was the truth and the full 
extent of her sin. Yet it was not a thing she could set 
about making inquiries after. . . . She wondered and 
wondered did Myles Shannon, the uncle of Ulick, know 
the full truth. Why did not her husband drop that 
grimy, powerful hand? Her breasts craved its blow 
now, even as they had yearned long ago for the fum- 
bling of the little, blind mouth. 

But he was merely asking her for money to buy drink 
for himself in Garradrimna. Hitherto this request had 
always given her pain, but now, somehow, it came dif- 
ferently to her ears. There was no hesitation on her 
part, no making of excuses. She went upstairs to the 
box which held her most dear possession the money she 


had saved so well through all the years for the fittiug- 
out of Ned to go proudly with her to attend the ordina- 
tion of their son John. She opened the box with the 
air of one doing a deliberate thing. The money, which 
amounted in all to about five pounds, was . still in the 
form in which she had managed to scrape it together. 
In notes and gold and silver, and even copper. Before 
this it would have appeared as a sacrilege on her part 
to have touched a penny of it, but now she had no 
thought of this kind. Ned wanted the money to pur- 
chase the means of forgetfulness of the great injury she 
had done him. 

She counted thirty pennies, one by one, into the 
pocket of her apron. This seemed the least suspicious 
way of giving it to him, for he had still no idea that 
she could have any little store laid by. It was hardly 
possible when one considered how much he drank upon 
ner in the village. 

She came down the stairs in silence, and spoke no 
word to him as she handed over the money. His lips 
seemed to split into a sort of sneer as he took it from her. 
Then he went out the door quickly and down the white 
road toward Garradrimna. 

For the admiration and surprise of John Brennan, 
Ulick Shannon had been displaying his skill with the 
wheel. Soon the white, tidy houses beyond the valley 
were whizzing past and they were running down the 
easy road which led into the village of Ballinamult. 
They had moved in a continuous cloud of dust from 

Ulick said he was choked with dust as he brought the 


car to a standstill outside the "North Leinster Arms." 
He marched deliberately into the public bar, and John 
Brennan followed after with less sure footsteps, for it 
was his first appearance in a place of this kind. There 
was a little, plump girl standing up on a chair rearrang- 
ing the bottles of whiskey and dusting the shelves. 

Ulick would seem to have already visited this tavern, 
for he addressed the girl rather familiarly as "Mary 
Essie. " She looked at the young man impudently as 
she wheeled around to exhibit herself to the best advan- 
tage. Ulick leaned his elbows upon the low counter and 
gazed towards her with his deep, dark eyes. Some quite 
unaccountable thing caused John Brennan to blush, but 
he noticed that the girl was not blushing. She was 
more brazenly forcing her body into exhibition. 

Ulick called for a drink, whatever his friend Brennan 
would have, and a bottle of Bass for himself. It ap- 
peared a little wrong to John that he should be about 
to partake of a drink in a pub., for the "North Leinster 
Arms' ' was nothing more than a sufficiently bad public- 
house. He had a sudden recollection of having once 
been given cakes and sweets in an evil-smelling tap- 
room one day he had gone with his mother long ago to 
Mullaghowen. He thought of the kind of wine he had 
been given that day and immediately the name was 
forced to his lips by the thought "Port wine!" 

When the barmaid turned around to fill their drinks 
the young men had a view of the curves of her body. 
John Brennan was surprised to find himself dwelling 
upon them in the intense way of his friend. 

Before they left Ulick had many drinks of various 
kinds, and it was interesting to observe how he ex- 


panded with their influence. He began to tell ' ' smutty ' ' 
stories to Mary Essie. She listened with attention. No 
blush came into her face, and her glad neck looked 
brazen. . . . John Brennan felt himself swallowing great 
gulps of disgust. . . . His training had led him to asso- 
ciate the female form with the angelic form coining down 
from Heaven. Yet here was something utterly different. 
... A vulgar girl, with fat, round hands and big 
breasts, her lips red as a recent wound in soft flesh, and 
looking lonely. 

He was glad when they regained the sunlight, yet the 
day was of such a character as creates oppression by the 
very height of its splendor. Ulick was in such a mood 
for talk that they had almost forgotten the luncheon- 
basket at the back of the car. 

Beyond Ballinamult they stopped again where the 
ruins of a moldering Abbey lay quietly surrounded by 
a circle of furze-covered hills. . . . Ulick expanded still 
further with the meal, yet his discourse still ran along 
the old trail. He was favoring his friend with a sketch 
of his life, and it seemed to be made up largely of the 
women he had known in Dublin. Quite suddenly he 
said what seemed to John a very terrible thing : 

"I have learned a lot from them, and let me tell you 
this it has been my experience that you could not trust 
your own mother or the girl of your heart. They seem 
to lack control, even the control of religion. They do not 
realize religion at all. They are creatures of impulse." 

Here was a sentiment that questioned the very fact of 
existence. ... It seemed dreadful to connect the tri- 
umph of love and devotion that was his mother with this 
consequent suggestion of the failure of existence. . . . 


Together they went across the grassy distance towards 
the crumbling ruin wherein the good monks of old had 
lived and prayed. And surely, he thought, the great 
spirit of holiness which had led men hither to spend their 
lives in penance and good works could not have departed 
finally from this quiet place, nor from the green fields 
beyond the rim of furze-covered hills. 

Yet upon his ears were falling the even, convincing 
tones of Ulick Shannon, still speaking cynically. 

" Behold/' he was saying, "that it is to this place the 
younger generation throng on the Sabbath. Around you, 
upon the ruined and bare walls, you will observe not 
pious words, but the coupled names of those who have 
come here to sin." 

"And look at this!" he exclaimed, picking from a 
niche in the wall a long shin bone of one of the ancient 
monks, which possessed the reputed power of cures and 
miracles. For a moment he examined it with a profes- 
sional eye, then handed it to John Brennan. There were 
two names scribbled upon it in pencil, and beneath them 
a lewd expression. Ulick had only laid hands upon it by 
the merest accident, but it immediately gave body to all 
the airy ideas he had been putting forth. There was 
something so greatly irreverent in the appearance of this 
accidental piece of evidence that no argument could be 
put forward against it. It was terrible and conclusive. 

The evening was far advanced when John Brennan re- 
turned home. His mother and father were seated in the 
kitchen. His father was drunk, and she was reading 
him a holy story, with an immeasurable feeling of des- 
pondence in her tones. John became aware of this as he 
entered the house. 


REBECCA KERB had been ill for a few days and 
did not attend school until the Monday following 
her arrival in the valley. There she made the acquaint- 
ance of Mrs. Wyse, the principal of Tullahanogue Girls' 
School, and Monica McKeon, the assistant of Tulla- 
hanogue Boys' School. Mrs. Wyse was a woman who 
divided her energies between the education of other 
women's children and the production of children of her 
own. Year by year, and with her growing family, had 
her life narrowed down to the painful confines of its 
present condition. She had the reputation of being a 
hard mistress to the children and a harsh superior to her 
assistants. From the very first she seemed anxious to 
show her authority over Rebecca Kerr. 

In the forenoon of this day she was standing by her 
blackboard at the east end of the school, imparting some 
history to her most advanced class. Rebecca was at the 
opposite end teaching elementary arithmetic to the 
younger children when something in the would-be im- 
pressive seriousness of her principal's tone caused her to 
smile openly. 

Mrs. Wyse saw the smile, and it lit her anger. She 
called loudly: 

"Miss Kerr, are you quite sure that that exercise in 
simple addition is correct?" 

"Yes, perfectly certain, Mrs. Wyse." 



The chalk had slipped upon the greasy blackboard, 
making a certain 5 to appear as a 6 from the distance 
at which she stood, and it was into this accidental trap 
that Mrs. Wyse had fallen. Previous assistants had 
studied her ways and had given up the mistake of con- 
tradicting her even when she was obviously in the wrong. 
But this was such a straight issue, and Rebecca Kerr 
had had no opportunity of knowing her. She came 
down in a flaming temper from the rostrum. Rebecca 
awaited her near approach with a smiling and assured 
complacency which must have been maddening. But 
Mrs. Wyse was not one to admit a mistake. Quick as 
lightning she struck upon the complaint that the exercise 
was beyond the course of instruction scheduled for this 
particular standard. . . . And here were the founda- 
tions of an enmity laid between these two women. They 
would not be friends in any fine way through the length 
of all the long days they might teach together. 

Thus for Rebecca the first day in the valley school 
dragged out its slow length and was dreary and dread- 
ful until noon. Then Monica McKeon came in from the 
Boys' School and they took their luncheon together. 
. . . They went on chattering away until the door of 
the schoolroom was suddenly darkened by the shadows 
of two men. The three women arose in confusion as 
Master Donnellan called them to the door. There was 
a young man standing outside who presented a strong 
contrast to the venerable figure of the master. The lat- 
ter, in his roundabout, pedagogic way, went on to tell 
how the stranger had strayed into the school playground 
and made himself known. He wished to show him the 
whole of the building, and introduced him as "Mr. Ulict 


Shannon, Mr. Myles Shannon's nephew, you know." 

The three female teachers took an immediate mental 
note of the young man. They saw him as neat and well- 
dressed, with a half-thoughtful, half-reckless expression 
upon his fine face, with its deep-set, romantic eyes. The 
few words he spoke during the general introduction ap- 
peared to Rebecca to be in such a gentle voice. There 
were some moments of awkward silence. Then, between 
the five of them, they managed to say a few conventional 
things. All the while those great, deep eyes seemed to 
be set upon Rebecca, and she was experiencing the dis- 
quieting feeling that she had met him at some previous 
time in some other place in this wide world. The eyes 
of Monica McKeon were upon both of them in a way 
that seemed an attempt to search their minds for their 
thoughts of the moment. 

Immediately he was gone Mrs. "Wyse and Miss McKeon 
fell to talking of him : 

"He's the hateful-looking thing; I'd hate him like 
poison," said Monica. 

' * Indeed what could he be and the kind of a father he 
had? Sure I remember him well, a quare character,'* 
said Mrs. Wyse. 

"I wonder what could have brought him around here 
to-day of all days since he came to Scarden?" 

This with her eyes set firmly upon Rebecca. 

Mrs. Wyse was not slow to pick up the insinuation. 

"Oh, looking after fresh girls always, the same as his 

"He 'snot bad-looking." 

" No ; but wouldn 't you know well he has himself de- 
stroyed with the kind of life he lives up in Dublin? 


They say he 's gone to the bad and that he '11 never pass 
his exams. ' ' 

Every word of the conversation seemed to be spoken 
frith the direct intention of attacking certain feelings 
Which had already begun to rise in the breast of Rebecca 
Kerr. . . . Her mind was being held fast by the well- 
Remembered spell of his eyes. 

The afternoon passed swiftly for Mrs. Wyse. She was 
so engrossed by thought of this small thing that had 
happened that she gave wrong dates in another history 
lesson, false notes in the music lesson, and more than one 
incorrect answer to simple sums in the arithmetic les- 

Rebecca was glad when three o'clock and her freedom 
at last came. Out in the sunlight she would be able to 
indulge in certain realizations which were impossible of 
enjoyment here in this crowded schoolroom. The day 
was still enthroned beneath the azure dome. This was 
the period of its languorous yawn when it seemed to 
dream for a space and gather strength before it came 
down from its high place and went into the long, wind- 
ing ways of evening. 

There were men engaged in raising sand from a pit by 
the roadside as she passed along. A pause in the ring- 
ing of their shovels made her conscious that they had 
stopped in their labor to gaze after her as she went. . . . 
Her neck was warm and blushing beneath the shadow of 
her hair. 

Her confusion extended to every portion of her body 
when she came upon Ulick Shannon around a bend of 
the road, book in hand, sauntering along. 

He saluted as she overtook him, and spoke of the pleas- 


ant afternoon. . . . She hoped he was enjoying his holi- 
days here in the valley. He seemed to be spending the 
time very quietly. Reading? Poetry? Just fancy! 
The Daffodil Fields, by John Masefield. What a pretty 
name? Was he devoted to poetry, and was this par- 
ticular poem a good one? 

"It is a great tale of love and passion that happened 
in one of the quiet places of the world/' he told her with 
a kind of enthusiasm coming into his words for the first 

"One of the quiet places?" she murmured, evidently 
at a loss for something else to say. 

"Yes, a quiet place which must have been like this 
place and yet, at the same time, most wonderfully dif- 
ferent, for no poet at all could imagine any tale of love 
and passion springing from the life about us here. The 
people of the valley seem to have died before they were 
born. I will lend you this poem, if you'd care to have 

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Shannon!" she said. 

They had wandered down a lane which led from the 
high road towards the peaceful fields beyond the little 
lake. This lane, he told her, was called "The Road of 
the Dead," and would afford her a short cut to her lodg- 
ing at Sergeant McGoldrick's. 

For lack of anything else to say, she remarked upon 
the strangeness of this name The Road of the Dead. 
He said it seemed a title particularly suitable. He went 
on to elaborate the idea he had just expressed: 

"Around and about here they are all dead dead. 
No passion of any kind comes to light their existence. 
Their life is a thing done meanly, shudderingly within 


the shadow of the grave. That is how I have been see- 
ing it for the past few weeks. They hate the occurrence 
of new people in their midst. They hate me already, 
and now they will hate you. The sight of us walking 
together like this must surely cause them to hate us still 
more. ' ' 

She was wondering that his words should hold a sense 
of consideration for her, seeing that they had been ac- 
quainted only such a short while. 

"This way leads from a graveyard to a graveyard, 
and they have a silly superstition that dead couples are 
sometimes seen walking here. Particularly dismal also 
do I consider this picture of their imagination. The 
idea of any one thinking us a dead couple ! ' ' 

As he said this her blushing cheek showed certainly 
that life was strong in her. . . . Upon the wings of his 
words grand thoughts had gone flying through her mind. 
All day she had been looking forward with dread to the 
yellow, sickly, sunlit time after school. And now to 
think that the miracle of this romantic young man had 
happened. . . . Both grew silent. Rebecca's eyes were 
filling with visions and wandering over a field of young 
green corn. They were dancing upon the waves of sun- 
light which shimmered over all the clean, feathery sur- 
face of the field. The eyes of Ulick were straying from 
the landscape and dwelling upon her deeply, upon the 
curves of her throat and bosom, and upon the gentle 
billows of her hair. Over all his face was clouding that 
mysterious, murky expression which had come as he 
gazed upon the little barmaid of the "North Leinster 
Arms" a few days previously. 


REBECCA wanted some light blouses. Those she 
possessed had survived through one summer, and 
it was all that could be expected of them. So one day 
she ran down to Brennan 's, during the half hour allowed 
for recreation, to leave the order. When she entered the 
sewing-room Mrs. Brennan was busy at her machine. 
Her ever-tired eyes struggled into a beaming look upon 

The young girl, with her rich body, seemed to bring a 
clean freshness into the room. For a moment the heavy 
smell of the miscellaneous materials about her died down 
in the nostrils of Mrs. Brennan. But this might have 
arisen from a lapse of other faculties occasioned by her 
agreeable surprise. So here was the new teacher who 
had so recently occupied her tongue to such an extent. 
She now beheld her hungrily. 

Rebecca laid her small parcel of muslin upon the table, 
and became seated at the request of Mrs. Brennan. 

" That's the grand day, ma'am/' said she. 

" 'Tis the grand day indeed, miss," said Mrs. Bren- 

"Not nice, however, to be in a stuffy schoolroom." 

"Indeed you might swear that, especially in such a 
school as Tullahanogue, with a woman like Mrs. Wyse; 
she ? s the nice-looking article of a mistress ! " 

Rebecca almost bounded in her chair. She had 



fancied Mrs. Brennan, from the nature of her occupa- 
tion, as a gabster, but she had not reckoned upon such a 
sudden and emphatic confirmation of her notion. Im- 
mediately she tried to keep the conversation from tak- 
ing this turn, which, in a way, might bring it to a per- 
sonal issue. But Mrs. Brennan was not to be baulked 
of her opportunity. 

She began to favor her visitor with a biography of 
Mrs. Wyse. It was a comprehensive study, including 
all her aspects and phases. Her father and his exact 
character, and her mother and what she was. Her hus- 
band, and how the marriage had been arranged. How 
she had managed to gain her position. Everything was 
explained with a wealth of detail. 

Rebecca out of the haze into which the garrulous re- 
cital had led her, spoke suddenly and reminded Mrs. 
Brennan of the passage of the half hour. Mrs. Bren- 
nan quickly fancied that the cause of the girl's lack of 
enthusiasm in this outpouring of information might 
have arisen from the fact that Mrs. Wyse had forestalled 
her with a previous attack. Thus, by a piece of swift 
transition, she must turn the light upon herself and 
upon the far, bright period of her young girlhood. 

Now maybe Miss Kerr would like to look through the 
album of photos upon the table. This was a usual ex- 
tension of feminine curiosity. . . . Rebecca opened the 
heavy, embossed album and began to turn over the 
pages. . . . There was a photo of a young girl near the 
beginning. She was of considerable beauty, even so far 
as could be discerned from this faded photo, taken in the 
early eighties. As Rebecca lingered over it, the face of 
Mrs. Brennan was lit by a sad smile. 


"She was nice, and who might she have been?" said 

"That was me when I was little and innocent, " said 
Mrs. Brennan. 

Rebecca looked from Mrs. Brennan to the photo, and 
again from the photo to Mrs. Brennan. She found it 
difficult to believe that this young girl, with the long, 
brown hair and the look of pure innocence in the fine 
eyes, could be the faded, anxious, gossipy woman sitting 
here at her labor in this room. . . . She thought of the 
years before herself and of all the tragedy of woman- 
hood. . . . There was silence between them for a space. 
Mrs. Brennan appeared as if she had been overpowered 
by some sad thought, for not a word fell from her as she 
began to untie the parcel of blouse material her customer 
had brought. There was no sound in the wide noontide 
stillness save the light fall of the album leaves as they 
were being turned. . . . Rebecca had paused again, and 
this time was studying the photos of two young men set 
in opposite pages. Both were arrayed in the fashions 
of 1890, and each had the same correct, stiff pose by an 
impossible-looking pedestal, upon which a French-gray 
globe reposed. But there was a great difference to be 
immediately observed as existing between the two men. 
One was handsome and of such a bearing as instantly 
appeals to feminine eyes. It was curious that they 
should have been placed in such contiguous contradis- 
tinction, for the other man seemed just the very op- 
posite in every way to the one who was so handsome. 
It could not have been altogether by accident, was Re- 
becca's thought, and, with the intuition of a woman at 
work in her, she proceeded to lay the foundations o.f a. 


romance. . . . Mrs. Brennan was observing her closely, 
and it grew upon her that she had been destined to bare 
her soul to this girl in this moment. 

"That was the nice young man," said Rebecca, in- 
dicating the one who, despite his stiff pose by the ped- 
estal, looked soldierly with his great mustache. 

"Indeed he was all that," said Mrs. Brennan. "I 
met him when I was away off in England. He was a 
rich, grand young man, and as fond of me as the day was 
long; but he was a Protestant and fearful of his people 
to change his religion, and to be sure I could not change 
mine. For the sake of me holy religion I gave up all 
thoughts of him and married Ned Brennan, whose like- 
ness you see on the other page. ' ' 

Rebecca lifted her eyes from the album and looked full 
at Mrs. Brennan. She wondered how much truth could 
be in this story. The dressmaker was a coarse woman 
and not at all out of place in this mean room. She 
imagined the heavy husband of her choice as a suitable 
mate for her. 

This sudden adoption of the attitude of a kind of 
martyr did not seem to tit well upon her. Rebecca could 
not so quickly imagine her as having done a noble and 
heroic thing for which she had not received sufficient 

Rebecca was still turning the leaves. She had hurried 
through this little pageant of other generations, and was 
at the last pages. Now she was among people of the 
present, and her attention was no longer held by the 
peculiarities of the costumes. . . . Her mind was begin- 
ning to wander. Suddenly she was looking down upon a 
photo in the older style and the anachronism was start- 


ling. Had it been placed in any other portion of the 
album she might not have so particularly noticed it. It 
was the likeness of a dark, handsome man on horse- 

"Who was he?" she said, almost unconsciously. 

A flush passed over the face of Mrs. Brennan, but she 
recovered herself by an effort. She smiled queerly 
through her confusion and said: 

"Indeed 'tis you who ought to know that." 

"How should I know?" Rebecca was amazed. 

"Don't you know Ulick Shannon?" 

It was now Rebecca's turn to be confused. 

Fancy this woman knowing that she had been talk- 
ing just once with Ulick Shannon. . . . Evidently the 
tongue of this place had already begun to curl around 

"But this is not Ulick Shannon!" She blushed as 
she found herself speaking his name. 

"No, but it is the photo of his dead father, Henry 

Mrs. Brennan heaved a great sigh as she said this. 
She rose from her seat by the machine and moved to- 
wards the place where Rebecca was bending over the 
album. She gazed down at the picture of the dead man 
with moist eyes. . . . There was silence between them 
now for what seemed a long time. Rebecca became 
alarmed as she thought that she might have overstayed 
the half hour. At the school the priest or the inspector 
might have called and found her absent from her post. 

She broke in abruptly upon Mrs. Brennan 's fit of in- 
trospection, and gave a few hurried orders about the 


"Will you be giving me the making of your next new 
costume? 7 ' said Mrs. Brennan. 

"Well, I'm sorry I don't think so. You see I have 
it being made already in Dublin." 

"In Dublin itself? Well, well! that'll be the great 

She felt it as an affront to her reputation that -any one 
who lived in the neighborhood should patronize other 
places for their needs. She took such doings as exhibi- 
tions of spite and malice against her. And, somehow, 
she could not get rid of the idea now, although this girl 
evidently knew nothing of her history. 

She was seeing Rebecca to the door when John Bren- 
nan came up the little path. She introduced him, and 
told how he was her son and, with vanity in her tones, 
that he was going to be a priest. 

"That'll give her something to think of, with her 
slighting me be telling how she was having her costume 
made be another. A woman that's going to have a son 
a priest ought to be good enough to make for her, and 
she a whipster that's after coming from God knows 

The mind of Mrs. Brennan was saying this to itself 
as she stood there at her own door gazing in pride upon 
her son. Rebecca Kerr was looking up into his face 
with a laugh in her eyes. He was such a nice young 
fellow, she was thinking. John Brennan was blushing 
in the presence of this girl and glancing shyly at her 

Suddenly she broke away from them with a laughing 
word upon her lips, ran out to the road, and down to- 
wards the school. 


"She's a very nice girl, mother." 

"Oh! indeed she's not much, John; and I knew well 
I wouldn't like her from the very first I heard tell of 
her coming." 


LARGE posters everywhere announced the holding of 
a concert in Garradrimna. As in many other as- 
pects of life in the village, it was not given to John 
Brennan to see their full meaning. He had not even 
seen in Thomas James, who posted the bills, a symbolic 
figure, but only one whom disaster had overtaken 
through the pursuit of his passion. For many a year 
had Thomas James gone about in this way, foretelling 
some small event in the life of Garradrimna. Now it 
was a race-meeting or a circus, again an auction or a 
fair. All the while he had been slipping into his pres- 
ent condition, and herein lay the curious pathos of him. 
For he would never post like this the passing of his 
own life; he would never set up a poster of Eternity. 

It was curious to think of that, no poster at all of the 
exact moment amid the mass of Time when the Great 
White Angel would blow his blast upon the Shining 
Trumpet to awaken all Earth by its clear, wide ringing 
across the Seven Seas. 

John Brennan spoke to his mother of the concert. 

"The cheek of them I do declare, with their concert. 
People don't find it hard enough to get their money 
without giving it to them. Bits of shop-boys and shop- 
girls! But I suppose they want new clothes and cos- 
tumes for the summer. I'll go bail you'll see them girls 
with new hats after this venture." 



"The bills announce that it is for the Temperance 
Club funds." 

"And them's the quare funds, you might say, and the 
quare club. Young fellows and young girls meeting in 
the one room to get up plays. No good can come of it." 

' ' Of course we need not attend if we don 't like. ' ' 

"Ah, we must go all the same. If we didn't, 'tis what 
they would say mebbe that we hadn't the means, and so 
we must let them know that we have. It wouldn't be 
nice to see you away from it." 

"I have no desire to go, mother, I assure you. A 
quiet evening more or less will not matter." 

"But sure it'll be a bit of diversion and amusement." 

"Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking, so I didn't 
see anything very wrong in going or in supporting those 
who organized it. But if you don't care to go, it does 
not matter.'' 

"Ah, but wouldn't it be the quare thing to see your 
mother ignorant and not having a word to say about 
what was after passing to any one that would come in, 
and they knowing the whole thing? Now what you'll do 
for me, John, is this. You'll go into Phillips 's this even- 
ing and get two of the most expensive tickets, one for 
yourself and one for me." 

John Brennan had a momentary realization of the 
pitiful vanity behind this speech. He remained think- 
ing while she went upstairs for the price of the tickets, 
for that must be her object, he fancied, in ascending into 
the upper story. He could hear her moving a trunk 
and opening it. The sounds caine to him with perfect 
clearness in the still room and struck him with a sense 
of their little mournfulness, even though he was quite 


unaware that his mother had secretly begun the destruc- 
tion of a bright portion of her life's dream. 

In the evening he went to the village for the tickets. 

"It'll be a grand turn-out," said Jimmy Phillips, as 
he took in the money and blinked in anticipation with 
his one eye. 

"I'm sure," said John, as he left the little shop where 
you might buy the daily newspaper and sweets and 

He strolled up the street towards the old castle of the 
De Lacys. The local paper, published at Mullaghowen, 
was never tired of setting down its fame. The uncouth 
historians of the village had almost exhausted their ad- 
jectives in relating the exploits of this marauding baron 
of the Normans who had here built him a fortress, from 
which his companies of conquering freebooters had 
sallied forth so long ago. Yet, as an extraordinary mis- 
take on the part of those who concerned themselves so 
intimately with the life around them, they had altogether 
missed the human side of the crumbling ruin. Of what 
romances of knighthood it had once been the scene 1 Of 
what visions of delight when fair women had met 
cuirassed gallants? Of all that pride which must have 
reared itself aloft in this place which was now the resort, 
by night, of the most humble creatures of the wild? 
Not one of them had ever been able to fancy the thoughts 
which must have filled the mind of Hugh De Lacy as 
he drew near this noble monument of his glory after 
some successful expedition against the chieftains of the 

Through the thin curtain of the twilight John Bren- 
nan saw two figures stealing from the labyrinthine ways 


which led beneath the castle into what were known as 
* ' The Cells. ' ' These were dark, narrow places in which 
two together would be in close proximity, and it was 
out from them that this man and this woman were now 
stealing. He could not be certain of their identity, but 
they looked like two whom he knew. . . . And he had 
heard that Rebecca Kerr was going to sing at the con- 
cert, and also that Ulick Shannon was coaching the Gar- 
radrimna Dramatic Class in the play they were to pro- 
duce, which was one he had seen at the Abbey Theater. 
... A curious thrill ran through him which was like a 
spasm of pain. Could it be this girl and this young man 
who had spoken with such disgusting intimacy of the 
female sex in the bar of the " North Leinster Arms" in 
Ballinamult. . . . ? They went by a back way into the 
Club, where the rehearsals were now going forward. 

John Brennan was sitting stiffly beside his mother in 
the front seats. Around and about him were people of 
renowned respectability, who had also paid two shillings 
each for their tickets. The seven publicans of Garra- 
drimna were there, some with their wives, some with 
their wives and daughters, and some with their wives 
and daughters and sisters-in-law. The Clerk of the 
Union continually adjusting and re-adjusting his lemon- 
colored gloves. The old bespectacled maid from the 
Post Office sitting near the gray, bullet-headed postmas- 
ter, whose apoplectic jowl was shining. They were 
keeping up a continual chatter and buzz and giggle be- 
fore the rise of the curtain. The jaws of the ancient 
postmistress never ceased to work, and those hot words 
of criticism and scorn which did not sizzle outwardly 


from her lips dropped inwardly to feed the fire of her 
mind, which was a volcano in perpetual eruption. 

Mrs. Brennan sat in silence by the side of her son, in 
the pride of his presence, glad that he and she were here. 
She was as fine as any of them, for she kept fine raiment 
for such occasions. In the first place as an advertise- 
ment for her craft of dressmaker, and, secondly, to afford 
a cloak for her past, even as those among whom she sat 
cloaked their pasts in heavy garments of pride. Her 
attention was concentrated not so much upon the per- 
formance she was about to witness as upon the audience 
assembled to witness it. To her the audience was the 
concert, and, although she was speaking no word, she was 
as nervously observant as the old postmistress. She was 
concerned by the task before her, for would she not be 
in honor bound to "go over" all that passed to any one 
who might happen into the sewing-room next day, and 
lay everything bare with a searching and deadly analysis 
for her son John? Thus was she not distracted by the 
chattering and giggling, but perfectly at ease while her 
mind worked nimbly within the limits of its purpose. 

The mind of John Brennan was not enjoying the same 
contentment. He was a little excited by the presence 
of Rebecca Kerr on a seat adjacent. She had a place 
on the program, and was awaiting her time to appear. 
His eye was dwelling upon her hair, which lifted grace- 
fully from her white neck in a smooth wave of gold. It 
was the fairest thing in this clouded place of human 
fumes, and the dear softness from which it sprang such 
a recess of beauty. 

The concert had at last begun. Harry Hoi ton, the 
comic, was holding the stage and the audience was in 


convulsions. Harry Holton was a distant disciple of 
Harry Lauder. Having heard the funny Scotchman 
upon the gramaphone he rather fancied that it was he 
who should have been Harry Lauder. In course of time, 
he had grown to think that it was Lauder and not him- 
self who was doing the impersonation. His effort to be 
broadly Scotch, while the marks of the son of Erin were 
so strong upon him, was where, all unseen, his power to 
move towards laughter really lay. Yet the audience 
rocked its sides in crude mirth at this crude exhibition, 
and each man asked his neighbor was it not the funniest 
damned thing? The seven sleek publicans of Garra- 
drimna threatened to explode. . . . John Brennan saw 
big beads of perspiration rise upon the comedian's brow 
and gleam in the sickly glare of the lamplight. Beyond 
the excitement, from behind the scenes, came a new 
sound the popping of a cork and through a chink 
in the back cloth he saw Ulick Shannon take his drink 
from the bottle. . . . Had Rebecca Kerr seen that as 

well as he or . But his speculation was cut short 

by the exit of the comedian after many encores, amidst 
tumultuous applause. 

Next came Agnes McKeon, a near relation of Monica 's 
and the schoolmistress of Ballinamult. Her big spec- 
tacles gave her the look of her profession, and although 
she sang well in a pleasing contralto, she appeared stiff 
and un alluring in her white dress, which was starched 
to a too strong resplendence. John heard two old maids 
with scraggy necks remarking, not upon the power of 
Miss McKeon 's voice, but upon the extraordinary white- 
ness of her dress, and saying it was grand surely, but 
they anxiously wondered were all her garments as clean 


for they were ready to credit her with extreme sloven- 
liness of habit. 

The play was the notable event of the evening. Al- 
though the work of a famous Abbey playwright, it had 
been evidently re-written for Harry Holton, who was 
the principal character. It was purely a Harry Holton 
show. Dramatic point and sequence were sacrificed to 
give scope to his renowned abilities. The other players 
would seem to have merged themselves to give him 
prominence. But the ladies had not merged their nat- 
ural vanity. One in particular, who was supposed to 
represent an old woman of Ireland, wore an attractive 
dress which was in the prevailing fashion. It was the 
illiterate pronunciation of even the simplest words 
which chiefly amused John Brennan. Herein might be 
detected the touch of Ulick Shannon, who, in coaching 
the production, had evidently added this means of 
diversion for his own amusement. John fancied that 
his friend must be enjoying it hugely in there behind 
the scenes. 

When the play had been concluded by Harry Holton 
giving a few steps of a dance, John Brennan saw Re- 
becca moving towards the stage. He observed the light 
grace with which she went to the ordeal. Here was no 
self-consciousness, but instead that easy quietness which 
is a part of dignity. ... It was Ulick Shannon who held 
aside the curtain allowing her to pass in upon the stage. 

"Well now, isn't that one the brazen thing?" 

This was the expression of opinion which came clearly 
from out the whispering and giggling. It was an un- 
pardonable offense to appear in public like this with- 
out a certain obvious fluttering and fear which it was 


one of Garradrimna 's most notable powers to create. It 
was a great flout. Even his mother was moved to nudge 
him, so unusual was the method of this strange girl, ap- 
pearing in public before the place into which she had 
come to earn a living. 

But she was singing. Rebecca Kerr was singing, and 
to John Brennan this was all he wished to know. He 
trembled as he listened and grew weary with delight. 
He became nervous, as before some unaccountable ap- 
prehension, and turned to his mother. She was looking 
quizzically at the girl on the stage. But the stage to him 
was now a sort of haze through which there moved ever 
little dancing specks. 

The concert was over and his mind had not yet re- 
turned to realization. Rebecca had not come from be- 
hind the scenes. He moved with his mother out into 
the night, and, as they went, glanced around the corner 
of the hall. He saw Rebecca Kerr and Ulick Shannon 
standing within the shadow of the surrounding wood. 
He spoke no word to his mother as they went down the 
road towards the house in the valley. 


AS if from the excitement of the concert, John Bren- 
nan felt weary next morning. He had been 
awake since early hours listening to the singing of the 
birds in all the trees near the house. The jolly sounds 
came to him as a great comfort. Consequently it was 
with an acute sensation of annoyance that there crowded 
in upon his sense of hearing little distracting noises. 
Now it was the heavy rumble of a cart, again the screech 
of a bicycle ridden by Farrell McGuinness on his way 
to Garradriinna for the letters of his rounds; and, con- 
tinually, the hard rasp of nailed boots upon the gravel 
of the road. 

His mother was moving about in the sewing-room be- 
neath. He could hear the noise made by her scissors as, 
from time to time, she laid it down and picked it up 
again, while, mingled with these actions, occasionally 
came up to him the little, unmusical song of the ma- 
chine. His father was still snoring. 

Last night Rebecca Kerr had shone in his eyes. . . . 
But how exactly had she appeared before the eyes of 
Garradrimna and the valley? After what manner 
would she survive the strong blast of talk? The out- 
look of his mother would be representative of the feel- 
ing which had been created. Yet he felt that it would 
be repugnant to him to speak with his mother of Re- 
becca Kerr. There would be that faded woman, look- 



ing at him with a kind of loving anxiety which seemed 
always to have the effect of crushing him back relent- 
lessly towards the realities of the valley and his own 
reality. After his thoughts of last night and this morn- 
ing he hated to face his mother. 

When at last he went down into the room where she 
sat sewing he had such an unusual look in his eyes as 
seemed to require the solace of an incident to fill it. 
If he had expected to find a corresponding look upon 
his mother's face he was disappointed. It seemed to 
wear still the quizzical expression of last night, and a 
slight curl at the corners of her mouth told that 
her mind was being sped by some humorous or satirical 

" Whatever was the matter with you last night, 
John ? ' ' she asked. 

She did not give him time to frame an answer, but 
went on: 

"And I dying down dead to talk to you about the 
concert, I could not get you to speak one word to me 
and we coming home/' 

He noticed that she was in good heart, and, although 
it was customary with him to be pleased to see his mother 
in a mood of gladness, he could not enter into laughter 
and gossip with her now. 

But she could not be silent. This small expedition 
into the outer world of passing events was now causing 
her mind to leap, with surprising agility, from topic to 
topic. . . . Yet what was striking John more than her 
talk, and with a more arresting realization, was, that 
although the hour of his Mass-going was imminent, she 
was not reminding him or urging him to remembrance 


of the good custom. ... At last he was driven by some 
scruple to remind her of the time, and it was her an- 
swer that finally amazed him: 

"Ah, sure you mightn't go to-day, John. You're 
tired and all to that, I know, and I want to tell you. . . . 
He! he! he! Now wasn't it the funniest thing to see 
the schoolmistress of Ballinamult and the schoolmistress 
of Tullahanogue and they up upon the one stage with 
Harry Helton's dramatics making sport for a lot of 
grinning idiots? Like a couple of circus girls they were, 
the brazen things! Indeed Miss Kerr is the bold-look- 
ing hussy, with not a bit of shame in her at all. But 
sure we may say she fell among her equals, for there 
wasn't much class connected with it anyhow." 

"I think Ulick Shannon was knocking about the 

The words strayed, without much sense of meaning or 
direction, out of the current of his musing, but they 
produced a swift and certain effect upon Mrs. Brennan. 
Her eyes seemed to cloud suddenly behind her glasses. 

"Aye ... I wonder who was the girl he went off 
with through the wood as we came out. Never fear it 
was the new schoolmistress/' 

She said this with a curious, dead quietness in her 
tones, and when she had spoken she seemed instantly 
sorry that the words had slipped from her lips. ... It 
seemed a queer thing to say to her son and he going on 
to be a priest. 

John thought it very strange that she too should have 
observed this incident, which he had imagined must 
have been hidden from all eyes save his own. He now 
wondered how many more must have seen it as he tried 


to recall the sensations with which it had filled him. . , , 
But beyond this remarkable endeavor of his mind his 
mother was again speaking: 

"If you went now, you'd be in time for half -past eight 

He did not fail to notice the immediate change which 
had taken place in her, and wondered momentarily what 
could have been its sudden cause. He was beginning to 
notice of late that she had grown more and more sub- 
ject to such unaccountable fits. 

In his desire to obey her he was still strong, but, this 
morning, as he walked along to Garradrimna he was 
possessed by a certain feeling of annoyance which 
seemed to strain the bond that stretched between them. 

In the chapel he knelt beside Charlie Clarke, like the 
voteens around them, with a lifeless acquiescence in the 
ceremony. He was here not because his heart was here, 
but merely because his mother had wished it. When his 
lips moved, in mechanical mimicry of the priest, he felt 
that the way of the hypocrite must be hard and lonely. 

When he came out upon the road he was confused to 
find himself face to face with Kebecca Kerr. It seemed 
a trick of coincidence that he should meet her now, for it 
had never happened on any other morning. Then he 
suddenly remembered how his mother had kept him late 
from "eight o'clock" by her talk of the concert, and it 
was now Miss Kerr's school-going time. . . . She smiled 
and spoke to him. 

She looked handsome as she moved there along the 
road from the house of Sergeant McGoldrick to the 
Girls' School of Tullahanogue. She was in harmony 
with the beauty of the morning. There had been a dull 


pain upon his mind since he had last seen her, but al- 
ready it was gone. 

Although the concert might appear as the immediate 
subject to which their minds would turn, this was not 
so. They began to talk of places and things away from 

She spun for his amusement many little yarns of the 
nuns who conducted the college where she had been 
trained. He told her stories of the priests who taught in 
the English college where he was being educated for the 
priesthood. They enlarged upon the peculiarities of 
monastic establishments. 

"And you're going to be a priest ?" she said, looking 
up into his face suddenly with dancing eyes. 

Such a question had never before been put to him in 
exactly this way. 

"I am ... At least, I think so. ... Oh, yes!" he 

She laughed in a ringing, musical way that seemed to 
hold just the faintest trace of mockery in its tones, but 
it seemed, next instant, to be only by way of preface to 
another conventual tale which she proceeded to tell. 

Through the period of this story they did not notice 
that they were being stared at by those they were meet- 
ing upon the road. ... As she chatted and laughed, 
his eyes would be straying, in spite of him, to that soft 
place upon her neck from which her hair sprang upward. 

It was with painful abruptness that she said: "Good 
morning, Mr. Brennan!'' and went into the old, barrack- 
like school. 


WHEN John regained the house he saw that his 
father's boots had disappeared from their ac- 
customed place beside the fire. No doubt he had gone 
away in them to Garradrimna. He had not met him 
on the road, but there was a short way across the fields 
and through the woods, a backward approach to three 
of the seven publichouses along which Ned Brennan, 
some rusty plumber's tool in his hand and his head 
downcast, might be seen passing on any day. 

He did not go straight into the sewing-room, for the 
door was closed and he could hear the low murmur of 
talk within. It must be some customer come to his 
mother, he thought, or else some one who had called in 
off the road to talk about the concert. Immediately he 
realized that he was wrong in both surmises, for it was 
the voice of Marse Prendergast raised in one of its re- 
nowned outbursts of supplication. 

"Now I suppose it's what you think that you're the 
quare, clever woman, Nan Byrne, with your refusing me 
continually of me little needs; but you'd never know 
what I 'd be telling on you some day, and mebbe to your 
grand son John." 

"Sssh sssh sure I'll get it for you when he goes 
from the kitchen." 

This last was in a low tone and spoken by his mother. 

" Mebbe it's what you're ashamed to let him see you 



giving to me. That's a grand thing now, and I know- 
ing what I know ! ' ' 

" Can't you be easy now and maybe 'tis a whole shill- 
ing I'll be giving you in a few minutes." 

This was altogether too generous of his mother. It 
gave scope to Marse Prendergast to exercise her tyranny. 
Her threat was part of the begging convention she had 
framed for herself, and so it did not move him towards 
speculation or suspicion. His mind drifted on to the 
enjoyment of other thoughts, tho girl he had just walked 
with down the valley, the remembered freshness of the 
morning road. He came out to the door. The little 
kitchen garden stretched away from his feet. An 
abandoned spade stood up lonely and erect in the mid- 
dle of the cabbage-plot. Around it were a few square 
feet of freshly-turned earth. It was the solitary trace 
of his existence that his father had left behind. ... As 
the mind of John Brennan came to dwell upon the lonely 
spectacle of the spade the need for physical exertion 
grew upon him. 

He went out into the little garden and lifted the rude 
implement of cultivation in his hand. He had not 
driven it many times into the soft clay of the cabbage- 
bed when a touch of peace seemed to fall upon him. 
The heavy burden that had occupied his mind was fall- 
ing into the little trench that was being made by the 

He had become so interested in his task that he had 
not heard his mother go upstairs nor seen Marse Pren- 
dergast emerge from the house some moments later. 

The old shuiler called out to him in her high, shrill 
voice : 


" That's right, John! That's right! 'Tis glad my- 
self is to see you doing something useful at last. Dig- 
ging the cabbage-plot, me sweet gosoon, and your father 
in Garradrimna be this time with his pint in his hand ! ' ' 

Mrs. Brennan had followed her to the door, and her 
cruelty was stirred to give the sore cut by reviving the 
old dread. 

"That's the lad! That's the lad! But mind you 
don't dig too far, for you could never tell what you'd 
find. And indeed it would be the quare find you might 

He laughed as she said this, for he remembered that, 
as a child she had entertained him with the strangest 
stories of leprecauns and their crocks of gold, which were 
hidden in every field. The old woman passed out on 
the road, and his mother came over to him with a pitiful 
look of sadness in her eyes. 

"Now, John, I'm surprised at you to have a spade in 
your hand before Marse Prendergast and all. That's 
your father's work and not yours, and you with your 
grand education." 

The speech struck him as being rather painful to hear, 
and he felt as if he should like to say: "Well, what is 
good enough for my father ought to be good enough 
for me!" But this, to his mother, might have looked 
like a back-answer, a piece of impertinence, so he merely 
stammered in confusion: "Oh, sure I was only exercis- 
ing and amusing myself. When this little bit is finished 
I'm going down to have a read by the lake." 

"That's right, 'John !" she said in a flat, sad voice, 
and turned back to her endless labor. 

He stopped, his hands folded on the handle-end of the 


spade, and fell into a condition of dulness which even 
the slightest labor of the body brings to those unaccus- 
tomed to it. All things grew so still of a sudden. 
There seemed to come a perfect lull in the throbbing, 
nervous realization of his brain from moment to mo- 
ment. ... He felt himself listening for the hum of his 
mother's machine, but it was another sound that came 
to him the desolating sound of her lonely sobbing. She 
was crying to herself there now in the sewing-room and 
mourning forever as if for some lost thing. . . . There 
were her regular sobs, heavy with an eternal sadness as 
he listened to them. Into such acute self-consciousness 
had his mood now moved that he could not imagine her 
crying as being connected with anything beyond him- 
self. He was the perpetual cause of all her pain. . . . 
If only she would allow him, for short spaces, to go out 
of her mind they might both come into the enjoyment 
of a certain freedom, but sometimes the most trivial 
incident seemed to put her out so. This morning she 
had been in such heart and humor, and last night so 
interested in the concert, and here now she was in tears. 
It could not have been the visit of Marse Prendergast 
or her talk, for there was nobody so foolish, he thought, 
as to take any notice of either. It must have been the 
digging and the fact that people passing the road might 
see him. Now was not that foolish of her, for did not 
Father O'Keeffe himself dig in his own garden with his 
own two blessed hands. . . . ? But he must bend in 
obedience to her desire, and go walking like a leisured 
gentleman through the valley. He was looking forward 
to this with dread, for, inevitably, it must throw him 
back upon his own thoughts. 


As he came down past the school he could hear a dull 
drone from among the trees. The school had not yet 
settled down to the business of the day, and the scholars 
were busy with the preparation of their lessons. John 
stopped by the low wall, which separated its poor play- 
ground from the road, to gaze across at the hive of in- 
tellect. Curious that his mother should now possess a 
high contempt for this rude academy where he had been 
introduced to learning. But he had not yet parted com- 
pany with his boyhood. He was remembering the com- 
panions of his schooldays and how this morning prep- 
aration had been such a torture. Still moving about 
the yard before his formal entrance to the school, was 
Master Donnellan. As John Brennan saw him now he 
appeared as one misunderstood by the people of the val- 
ley, and yet as one in whom the lamp of the intellect 
was set bright and high. But beyond this immediate 
thought of him he appeared as a man with overthrown 
ambitions and shattered dreams, whose occasional out- 
bursts of temper for these reasons had often the effect 
of putting him at enmity with the parents of the chil- 

Master Donnellan was a very slave of the ferrule. 
He had spent his brains in vain attempts to impart some 
knowledge to successive generations of dunces of the 
fields. It had been his ambition to be the means of 
producing some great man whose achievements in the 
world might be his monument of pride. But no pupil 
of his in the valley school had ever arisen as a great man. 
Many a time, in the long summer evenings, when the 
day would find it hard to disappear from Ireland, he 
would come quietly to the old school with a step of 


reverence, and going into the moldy closet, where all 
the old roll-books and register-books were kept, take 
them down one by one and go searching through the 
lists of names. His mind would be filled with the ring- 
ing achievements of men who had become notable in the 
world. . . . Not a trace of any of those famous names 
could he find here, however far he might search in all 
the musty books until the day had faded. . . . Then he 
would rely upon his memory in a further aspect of his 
search. He had not even produced a local great man. 
In his time no priests had come out of the valley. There 
was a strange thing now no priests, and it was a thing 
that was always said by angry mothers and fathers when 
they called at the valley school to attack him for his 
conduct towards their children "And you never to 
have made a priest or a ha'porth!" It was not the un- 
reasonableness of their words that annoyed him, but 
rather the sense of impotence with which they filled 
him. ... If only it would happen that he could say 
he had produced one famous man. A priest would be 
sufficiently fine to justify him in the eyes of the valley. 
It was so strange that, although he had seen many 
young men move towards high attainment, some fatality 
had always happened to avert his poor triumph. He 
thought of young Brennan as his present hope and 

John went on towards the lake. When he came to 
the water's edge he was filled with a sense of peace. He 
sat down beneath one of the fir trees and, in the idle- 
ness of his mood, began to pick up some of the old dried 
fir-cones which were fallen beneath. They appeared to 
him as things peculiarly bereft of any sap or life. He 


gathered until he had a handful and then cast them from 
him one by one on the surface of the water. It seemed 
a surprising thing that the small eddies which the light 
splashes of them made rolled distantly to the shores 
of the little lake. He began to wonder would his life 
come to be like that a small thing to be flung by the 
Hand of Fate and creating its little ripple to eddy to 
the far shores of Time. 

"Me sound man, John!" 

It was the voice of Shamesy Golliher coming from be- 
hind a screen of reeds where he had been fishing. 

" 'Tis a warm day/' he said, pushing back his faded 
straw hat from his brow, ' ' Glory be to the Son of God ! ' ' 

This was a pious exclamation, but the manner of its 
intonation seemed to make it comical for John Brennan 
laughed and Shamesy Golliher laughed. 

"Now isn't them the clever, infernal little gets of 
fishes? The divil a one can I catch only the size of 
pinkeens, and I wanting to go to Garradrimna with a 
hell of a thirst!" 

"And is that all you have troubling you?" said John. 

"Is that all? Begad if it isn't enough after last 
night. If the priests knew all the drink that bees drunk 
at concerts in aid of Temperance Halls you wouldn't see 
a building of that kind in the country. 

"Now down with me last night to the concert with 
me two lovely half-pints of malt. Well, to make a long 
story short, I finished one of them before I went in. I 
wasn't long inside, and I think it was while Harry Hoi- 
ton was singing, when who should give me a nudge only 
Hubert Manning: 'Are ye coming out, Shamesy?' says 
he. He had two bottles of stout and a naggin, and 


we had them finished before Harry Holton had done his 
first song. I was striving for to crush back into me 
place when who should I knock against only Farrell 
McGuinness? He had a lot of bottles in his pocket. 
He seemed to have about four dozen of stout on his 
person, according to the noise he made : ' For the honor 
of Jases/ says he, 'will you not spill me porter?' But 
then when he saw it was me he had in it : ' Come to hell 
oura this/ says he, 'into the night air/ I was so glad 
to see that he hadn't broken his bottles, I introduced 
th 'other half pint. Sure he nearly swallowed it, bottle 
and all. Then we fell to at the porter, and such a 
bloody piece of drinking never was seen. And it wasn't 
that we had plenty of drink of our own, but strange 
people were coming running through the wood putting 
half-pints and naggins into our mouths just as if we 
were little sucking childer. I fell a corpse under a tree 
about eleven. I don't know how long I was insensible, 
but when I came to I had a quare feeling that I was in 
Hell or some place. I wasn't able to move an inch, I 
was that stiff and sick. . . . Somewhere near me I could 
hear two whispering and hugging in the darkness. 
They were as close as ever they could be. I couldn't 
stir to get a better look for fear they'd hear me. But 
there was quare goings on I can tell you, things I 
wouldn't like to mention or describe. Whisper, I'm 
near sure it was Ulick Shannon and the schoolmistress, 

Miss Kerr, or whatever the hell her name is ." 

Shamesy's sickening realism was brought to an 
abrupt end by the ducking of his cork, which had been 
floating upon the surface of the water. There was a 
short moment of joyous excitement and then a dying 


perch lay on the grass by the side of John Brennan. 

He viewed with sorrow that clean, shining thing wrig- 
gling there beneath the high heavens. Its end had 
come through the same pitiful certainty as that of the 
rabbits which had aforetime contributed to the thirst 
of Shamesy, who presently said with delight: 

"Now I have the correct number. I can sell them for 
sixpence in "The World's End/ and you'd never know 
the amount of good drink that sixpence might bring. " 

He prepared to take his departure, but ere he went 
across the hill he turned to John and said : 

"That was the fine walk you were doing with Ulick 
Shannon's girl this morning? She was in great form 
after last night. ' ' 

He said it with such a leer of suggestion as cast John, 
still blushing, back into his gloom. 


LAST night and this morning, what Shamesy Golliher 
had told him of last night and said of the walk 
with Rebecca this morning all this was now recurring 
clearly to his mind, although Shamesy had long since 
disappeared across the sweep of the hill on his way to 

Mrs. Brennan had so recently reminded her son of his 
coming exaltation that the suggestion was now com- 
pelling him beyond the battle of his thought to picture 
himself as a priest ordained. Yet an immense gulf of 
difference still separated him from the condition of 
Father O'Keeffe, for instance. His thought had been 
further helped to move this way by the sudden appear- 
ance of Father O'Keeffe riding along The Road of the 

John did not see the man as he really was. Yet it 
was the full reality of him that was exercising a sub- 
conscious influence upon his mind and helping, with 
other things, to turn his heart away from the priest- 

Father O'Keeffe came directly from that class so im- 
portant in Ireland the division of the farmer class 
which has come to be known as "The Grabbers." The 
word "grabber" had not been invented to describe a 
new class, but rather to denote the remarkable character 



of a class already in existence. That was their inner- 
most nature, these farmers, to be close-fisted and to 
guard with an almost savage tenacity those possessions 
to which they had already attained. It was notable 
also that they were not too careful or particular as to 
the means they employed to come into possession. This 
was the full answer to the question why so many of 
them put a son on for the Church. It was a double rea- 
son, to afford a means of acquiring still further and to 
be as an atonement in the sight of Heaven for the means 
they had used in acquiring thus far. This at once ap- 
peared amazingly true if one applied it to the case of 
Father O'Keeffe, who could on occasion put on such a 
look of remoteness from this world, that it was difficult 
to set about analyzing him by any earthly standard. 
Yet, among all the pedigrees she had read for him, as a 
notable example in Mrs. Brennan's crowd of examples, 
had continually appeared and re-appeared this family 
of O'Keeffe. His mother had always endeavored to fix 
firmly in his mind the wonder of their uprise. It was 
through the gates of the Church that the O'Keeffes had 
gone to their enjoyment. No doubt they had denied 
themselves to educate this Louis O'Keeffe who had be- 
come P.P. of Garradrimna, but their return had been 
more than satisfying. There was now no relation of his 
to the most distant degree of blood who did not possess 
great comfort and security in the land. 

At bottom Father O'Keeffe was still a man of the 
clay and loved the rich grass and the fine cattle it pro- 
duced. He had cattle in every quarter of the parish. 
Men bought them and saw to their fattening and sold 
them for him, even going so far as adding the money 


to his account in the bank. He had most discreetly used 
a seeming unworldliness to screen his advance upon 
the ramparts of Mammon. Citing the examples of 
Scripture, he consorted with notable, though suddenly 
converted, sinners, and, when some critic from among 
the common people was moved to speak his mind as 
one of the converted sinners performed a particularly 
unscrupulous stroke of business, he was immediately 
silenced by the unassailable spectacle of his parish priest 
walking hand in hand with the man whose actions he 
was daring to question. The combination was of mu- 
tual benefit; the gombeen man, the auctioneer and the 
publican were enabled to proceed with their swindle of 
the poor by maintaining his boon companionship. 

Thus, while publicly preaching the admonishing text 
of the camel and the rich man and the needle's eye, 
Father O'Keeffe was privately engaged in putting him- 
self in such a condition that the task of negotiating the 
needle's eye might be as difficult to him as the camel. 
He went daily for a walk, reading his office, and re- 
turned anxiously scanning stock exchange quotations 
and letters from cattle salesmen in Dublin. But in 
spite of this he was a sportsman, and thought nothing 
of risking a ten-pound note upon a horse or a night's 

When he first came to the parish his inclinations were 
quickly determined. In the whirl of other interests 
cards had fallen into disuse in Garradrimna. They had 
come to be considered old-fashioned, but now suddenly 
they became "all the rage." Old card-tables were re- 
discovered and renewed, and it was said that Tommy 
Williams was compelled to order several gross of play- 


ing cars for, what the " elite" of the parish did, the 
"commonality" must needs follow and do. Thus was 
a public advantage of doubtful benefit created; for la- 
boring men were known to lose their week 's wages to the 
distress of their wives and children. ... At the "gor- 
geous card-plays" never an eyelid was lifted when 
Father O'Keeffe "renayged." 

These took place in the houses of shopkeepers and 
strong farmers, and were cultivated to a point of ex- 
cessive brilliance. Ancient antagonists of the tongue 
met upon this new field, and strategic attempts were 
made to snatch Father O'Keeffe as a prize of battle. 
Thus was an extravagant sense of his value at once 
created and, as in all such cases, the worst qualities of 
the man came to be developed. His natural snobbish- 
ness, for one thing, which led him to associate a great 
deal with the gilded youth of Garradrimna officials of 
the Union and people of that kind who had got their po- 
sitions through every effort of bribery and corruption. 
At athletic sports or coursing matches you would see 
him among a group of them, while they smoked stink- 
ing "Egyptian" cigarettes up into his face. 

Yet it must not be thought that Father O'Keeffe 
neglected the ladies. In evenings in the village he 
might be seen standing outside the worn drapery coun- 
ters back-biting between grins and giggles with the 
women of the shops. This curious way of spending the 
time had once led an irreverent American to describe 
him as "the flirtatious shop-boy of Garradrimna." 

His interest in the female sex often led him upon ex- 
peditions beyond the village. Many a time he might be 
seen riding his old, fat, white horse, so strangely named, 


"King Billy," down some rutted boreen on the way to 
a fanner's house where there were big daughters with 
weighty fortunes. Those were match-making expedi- 
tions when he had come to tell them of his brother Robert 
O'Keeffe and his broad acres. . . . While "King 
Billy " was comforting himself with a plentiful feed of 
oats, he would be sitting in the musty parlor with the 
girl and her mother, taking wine and smoking cigars, 
which were kept in every house since it had come to be 
known that Father O'Keeffe was fond of them. He 
generally smoked a good few at a sitting, and those he 
did not consume he carried away in his pocket for fu- 
ture use in his den at the Presbytery. 

"Isn't Father O'Keeffe, God bless him, the walking 
terror for cigars?" was all the comment ever made 
upon this extraordinary habit. 

Robert O'Keeffe, in the intentions of his brother, was 
a much-married man, for there was not a house in the 
parish holding a marriageable girl into which Father 
O 'Keeffe had not gone to get him a match. He had en- 
larged upon the excellence of his brother, upon his 
manners and ways and the breadth of his fields. 

"He's the grand, fine man, is Robert," he would say, 
by way of giving a final touch to the picture. 

Upon those whose social standing was not a thing of 
any great certitude this had always a marked effect to- 
wards their own advantage and that of Father 'Keeffe. 
It gave them a certain pride in their own worth to have 
a priest calling attentively at the house and offering his 
brother in marriage. It would be a gorgeous thing to 
be married to a priest's brother, and have your brother- 
in-law with power in his hands to help you out of many 


a difficulty. He never inquired after the cattle their 
fathers were grazing free of charge for him until he 
would be leaving the house. 

John Brennan followed the black figure upon the 
white horse down all The Road of the Dead until Father 
O'Keeffe had disappeared among the trees which sur- 
rounded the Schools of Tullahanogue, where he was 
making a call. 


JOHN now saw Ulick Shannon coming towards him 
across the Hill of Annus. It was strange that he 
should be appearing now whose presence had just been 
created by the Rabelaisian recital of Shamesy Golliher. 
As he came along boldly his eyes roamed cheerfully over 
the blue expanse of water and seemed to catch some- 
thing there which moved him to joyous whistling. John 
Brennan felt a certain amount of reserve spring up be- 
tween them as they shook hands. . . . For a moment 
that seemed to lengthen out interminably the two young 
men were silent. The lake was without a ripple in the 
intense calm of the summer day. . . . Suddenly it re- 
flected the movement of them walking away, arm in 
arm, towards the village. 

It was high noontide when they reached Garra- 
drimna. The Angelus was ringing. Men had turned 
them from their various occupations to bend down for 
a space in prayer. The drunkards had put away the 
pints from their mouths in reverence. The seven sleek 
publicans were coming to their doors with their hats in 
their hands, beating their breasts in a frenzy of zeal and 
genuflecting. Yet, upon the appearance of the students, 
a different excitement leaped up to animate them. They 
began to hurry their prayers, the words becoming 
jumbled pell mell in their mouths as they cleared a 



way for their tongues to say to one another the thing 
they wanted to say of the two young men. 

By their God, there was John Brennan and Ulick 
Shannon coming into Garradrimna in the middle of the 
day. To drink, they at once supposed. Their tongues 
had been finding fine exercise upon Ulick Shannon for 
a considerable time, but it was certainly a comfort to 
have the same to say of John Brennan. A clerical 
student coming up the street with a Dublin scamp. 
That was a grand how-d'ye-do! But sure they sup- 
posed, by their God again, that it was only what she de- 
served (they were referring to Mrs. Brennan). 

Her mention at once brought recollection of her story, 
and it came to be discussed there in the heat of the day 
until the lonely woman, who was still crying probably 
as she sat working by her machine in the little house in 
the valley, became as a corpse while the vultures of 
Garradrimna circled round it flapping great wings in 

The students strode on, reciting the Angelus beneath 
their breaths with a devotion that did not presently give 
place to any worldly anxiety. They were doing many 
things now, as if they formed a new personality in 
which the will and the inclination of each were merged. 
They turned into McDermott's, and it seemed their col- 
lective intention from the direction they took upon en- 
tering the shop to take refuge in the retirement of the 
particular portion known as Connellan's office. It was 
the place where Mick Connellan, the local auctioneer, 
transacted business on Fridays. On all other days it 
was considered the more select and secluded portion of 
this publichouse. But when they entered it was oc- 


cupied. Padna Padna, the ancient drunkard, was sit- 
ting by the empty grate poking the few drawn corks in 
it as if they were coals. He was speaking to himself 
in mournful jeremiads, and after the fashion of one 
upon whom a great sorrow has fallen down. 

"Now what the hell does he want with his mission, 
and it too good we are ? A mission, indeed, for to make 
us pay him money every night, and the cosht of every- 
thing, drink and everything. He, he, he! To pay the 
price of a drink every night to hear the missioners de- 
nounce drink. Now that's the quarest thing ever any 
one heard. To go pay the price of a drink for hearing 
a man that doesn't even know the taste of it say that 
drink is not good for the human soul. Begad Father 
'Keeffe is the funny man ! ' ' 

After this fashion did Padna Padna run on in 
soliloquy. He had seen many a mission come to bring, 
in the words of the good missioners, "a superabundance 
of grace to the parish, ' ' and seen it go without bringing 
any appreciable addition of grace to him or any change 
in his way of life. It seemed a pity that his tradition 
had set Padna Padna down as a Christian, and would 
not allow him to live his life upon Pagan lines and in 
peace. The struggle which continually held occupation 
of his mind was one between Christian principles and 
Pagan inclinations. He now began whispering to him- 
self " The Book of God! The Book of God! A fel- 
low's name bees written in the Book of God!" ... So 
absorbed was he in his immense meditation that he had 
hardly noticed the entry of the students. But as he 
became aware of their presence he stumbled to his feet 
and gripping John Brennan by the arm whispered 


tensely: "Isn't that a fact, young fellow, that one's 
name bees down there always, and what one does, and 
that it's never blotted out?" 

"It is thus we are told," said John, speaking dog- 
matically and as if he were repeating a line out of the 

Padna Padna, as he heard these words and recognized 
the voice of their speaker, put on what was really his 
most gruesome expression. He stripped his shrunken 
gums in a ghastly little smile, and a queer ' ' Tee-Hee ! ' ' 
issued from his furrowed throat. . . . Momentarily his 
concern for Eternity was forgotten in a more immediate 
urgency of this world. He gripped John still more 
tightly and in a higher whisper said: "Are ye able to 

It was a strange anti-climax and at once betrayed his 
sudden descent in the character of his meditation, from 
thinking of what the Angel had written of him to his 
immortal longing for what had determined the character 
of that record regarding immortality. 

"Yes, I'll stand," said Ulick, breaking in upon John 
Brennan's reply to Padna Padna and pushing the bell. 

Mr. McDermott himself, half drunk and smelling of 
bad whiskey, came in and soon the drinks were before 
them. New life seemed to come pushing into the an- 
cient man as he took his "half one." He looked up in 
blind thankfulness into their faces, his eyes running 
water and his mouth dribbling like that of a young child. 
. . . His inclinations were again becoming rapidly 
Pagan. . . . From smiling dumbly he began to screech 
with laughter, and moved from the room slowly tapping 
his way with his short stick. ... He was going forth to 


fresh adventures. Spurred on by this slight addition 
of drink he would be encouraged to enter the other six 
publichouses of Garradrirnna, and no man could tell 
upon what luck he might happen to fall. So fortunate 
might his half-dozen expeditions prove that he would 
probably return to the house of the good woman who 
was his guardian, led by Shamesy Golliher, or some other 
one he would strike up with in the last dark pub, as if 
he were a toddling infant babbling foolish nonsense 
about all the gay delights which had been his of old. 
The mad drives from distant villages upon his outside 
car, his passengers in the same condition as himself a 
state of the wildest abandon, and dwelling exultingly 
in that moment wherein they might make fitting models 
for a picture by Jack B. Yeats. 

Ulick and John were now alone. The day outside was 
hot and still upon the dusty street, but this office of 
Connellan's was a cool place like some old cellar full of 
forgotten summers half asleep in wine. . . . They were 
entering still deeper into the mood of one another. . . . 
Ulick had closed the door when Padna Padna had passed 
through, tapping blindly as he moved towards the far 
places of the village. He would seem to have gone for 
no other purpose than to publish broadcast the presence 
of Ulick Shannon and John Brennan together in Mc- 
Dermott's, and they drinking. For now the door of 
Connellan's office was being opened and closed every few 
minutes. People were calling upon the pretense of look- 
ing for other people, and going away leaving the door 
open wide behind them so that some others might come 
also and see for themselves the wonderful thing that was 
happening. . . . Padna Padna was having such a time 


as compared favorably with the high times of old. A 
" half -one" of malt from every man he brought to see 
the sight was by no means a small reward. And so he 
was coming and going past the door like a sentry on 
guard of some great treasure which increased in value 
from moment to moment. He was blowing upon his 
fingers and tapping his lips and giggling and screeching 
with merriment down in his shivering frame. 

And most wonderful of all, the two young men who 
were creating all this excitement were quite unconscious 
of it. ... They were talking a great deal, but each, 
as it were, from behind the barricade of his personality, 
for each was now beginning for the first time to notice 
a peculiar thing. They were discovering that their per- 
sonalities were complementary. John lacked the gift, 
which was Ulick 's, of stating things brilliantly out of 
life and experience and the views of those modern au- 
thors whom he admired. On the other hand, he seemed 
to possess a deeper sense of the relative realities of cer- 
tain things, a faculty which sprang out of his ecclesias- 
tical training and which held no meaning for Ulick, who 
spoke mockingly of such things. Ulick skimmed lightly 
over the surface of life in discussing it; John was in- 
clined to plow deeply. 

Suddenly a desire fell upon John to hear Ulick dis- 
cuss again those matters he had talked of at the " North 
Leinster Arms" in Ballinamult. It was very curious 
that this should be the nature of his thoughts now, this 
inclination towards things which from him should al- 
ways have remained far distant and unknown. . . . But 
it may have been that some subtle impulse had stirred 
in him, and that he now wished to see whether the out- 


look of Ulick had changed in any way through his ru- 
mored friendship with Rebecca Kerr. Would it be a 
cleaner thing and purified through power of that girl? 
He fondly fancied that no thought at all could be soiled 
within the splendid precinct of her presence. 

Josie Guinan, the new barmaid of McDermott's, came 
in to attend them with other and other drinks. Her 
bosom was attractive and ample, although her hair was 
still down upon her back in rich brown plaits. . . . She 
dallied languorously within the presence of the two 
young men. . . . Ulick began to tell some of the stories 
he had told to Mary Essie, and she stood even as brazenly 
enjoying them with her back to the door closed behind 
her. Then the two came together and whispered some- 
thing, and a vulgar giggle sprang up between them. 

And to think that this was the man to whom Rebecca 
Kerr might be giving the love of her heart. ... If John 
had seen as much of life as the other he would have 
known that Ulick was the very kind of man who, at all 
times, has most strongly appealed to women. Yet it was 
in this moment and in this place that he fell in love with 
Rebecca. . . . He became possessed of an infinite will- 
ingness to serve and protect her, and it was upon the 
strength of his desire that he arose. 

Through all this secret, noble passage, Ulick remained 
laughing as at some great joke. He, too, was coming 
into possession of a new joy, for he was beginning to 
glimpse the conflagration of another's soul. Out of sheer 
devilment, and in conspiracy with Josie Guinan, he had 
caused John Brennan's drink, the small, mild measure 
of port wine, to be dosed with flaming whiskey. Even 
the wine in the frequency of its repetition had already 


been getting the better of him. They had been hours 
sitting here, and outside the day was fading. 

John began to stutter now in the impotence of degra- 
dation which was upon him. His thoughts were all 
burning into one blazing thought. The small room 
seemed suddenly to cramp and confine his spirit as if it 
were a prison cell. . . . And Ulick was still smiling that 
queer smile of his with his thick red lips and sunken eyes. 

He sprang towards the door and, turning the handle, 
rushed out into the air. . . . Soon he was fleeing as if 
from some Unknown Force, staggering between the rows 
of the elms which stretched all along the road into the 
valley. It had rained a shower and the strong, young 
leaves held each its burden of pearly drops. A light 
wind now stirred them and like an aspergillus they flung 
a blessing down upon him as he passed. And ever did 
he mutter her name to himself as he stumbled on : 

11 Rebecca Kerr, Rebecca Kerr, I love you, Rebecca, 
I love you surely ! Oh, my dear Rebecca ! ' ' 

She was moving before him, with her hair all shining 
through the twilight. 

* ' Oh, dear Rebecca ! I love you ! Oh, my dear ! ' ' 

He turned The Road of the Dead and down by the 
lake, where he lay in the quiet spot from which Ulick 
Shannon had taken him away to Garradrimna. There 
he remained until far on in the evening, when his 
mother, concerned for his welfare, came to look for him. 
She found him sleeping by the lake. 

She had no notion of how he had passed the evening. 
Her imagination was, after all, only a very small thing 
and worked rigorously within the romantic confines of 
the holy stories which were her continual reading. 


When she had awakened him she asked a characteristic 
question : 

"And I suppose, John, you're after seeing visions and 
things have appeared to you?" 

"Yes, mother, I have seen a vision, I think," he said, 
as he opened his eyes and blinked stupidly at the lake. 
He was still midway between two conditions, but he was 
not noticeable to her, who could not have imagined the 

These were the only words he spoke to her before he 
went to bed. 

Back in McDermott's a great crowd thronged the pub- 
lic bar. Every man seemed to be in high glee and a 
hum of jubilation hung low between them. A momen- 
tous thing had happened, and it was of this great event 
they were talking. John Brennan had left the house 
end he reeling. Men from the valley foregathered in 
one group and, as each new-comer arrived, the news was 
re-broken. It was about the best thing that had ever 
happened. The sudden enrichment of any of their num- 
ber could not have been half so welcome in its impor- 

Padna Padna and Shamesy Golliher were standing in 
one corner taking sup for sup. 

"Damn it, but it was one of the greatest days ever I 
seen in Garradrimna since the ould times. It was a pity 
you missed of it," said Padna Padna. "If you were to 
see him!" 

"Sure I'm after seeing him, don't I tell ye, lying a 
corpse be the lake." 

"A corpse be the lake. He, he, he! Boys-a-day! 


MRS. BRENNAN, although she pondered it deeply, 
had made no advance towards full realization of 
her son's condition by the lakeside. Yet John felt 
strangely diffident about appearing before her next morn- 
ing. It seemed to him that another attack had been made 
upon the bond between them. But when at last he came 
into the sewing-room she was smiling, although there 
was a sinking feeling around his heart as he looked upon 
her. Yet this would pass, he hoped, when they began 
to talk. 

The children were going the road to school, and it 
was the nature of Mrs. Brennan that she must needs 
be making comment upon what was passing before her 

"God help the poor, little girls," she cried, "sure 'tis 
the grand example they're being set by that new one, 
Miss Kerr, with her quare dresses and her light ways. 
They say she was out half the night after the concert 
with Ulick Shannon, arid that Mrs. McQoldrick and the 
Sergeant are in terror of their lives for fear of robbers 
or the likes, seeing that they have to leave the door on 
the latch for her to come in at any time she pleases from 
her night-walking. And the lad she bees with that's 
after knocking about Dublin and couldn't be good any- 
way. But sure, be the same token, there's a touch of 
Dublin about her too. How well she wouldn't give me 



the making of her new dress? But I suppose I'm old- 
fashioried in my cut. Old-fashioned, how are ye; and 
I buying Weldon's Ladies' Journal every week? But 
of course she had to go to Dublin to be in the tip of 
the fashion and see what they wear in Graftori Street 
in the lamplight. She had to get an outfit of immodest 
fol-the-dols to be a disgrace in the chapel every Sun- 
day, and give room to the missioners when they come 
to say things that may have an injurious effect upon 
poor dressmakers like myself who strive to earn a living 
as decently as we can." 

This harangue was almost unnoticed by John Brennan. 
It was a failing of his mother to be always speaking thus 
in terms of her trade. He knew that if Miss Kerr had 
come here with her new dress, fine words and encomiums 
would now be spoken of her in this room. But it was 
his mother who was speaking and he was thinking of 
the girl who had filled his vision. 

And his mother was still talking: 

"That Ulick Shannon, I hate him. I wish you 
wouldn't let yourself be seen along with him. It is not 
good for you, avic mackree. Of course I know the kind 
of talk you do be having, son. About books and classes 
and the tricks and pranks of you at college. Ah, dear, 
I know; but I'd rather to God it was any other one in 
the whole world. I'm fearing in me heart that there's 
a black, black side to him. It's well known that he 
bees always drinking in Garradrimna, arid now see how 
he's after striking up with the schoolmistress one. 
Maybe 'tis what he'd try to change you sometime, for 
as sure as you're there I'm afraid and afraid. And 
to think after all I have prayed for you through all the 


years, upon me two bare knees in the lonely nights, if 
an affliction should come." 

"What affliction, mother? What is it?" 

He came nearer, and gazing deep into her face saw 
that there were tears in her eyes. Her eyes were shin- 
ing like deep wells. 

"Ah, this, son. If it should ever come that you did 
not think well to do me wish, after all I have done " 

She checked herself of a sudden, and it was some 
moments before John replied. He, too, was thinking of 
Ulick Shannon. There was a side to his friend that he 
did not like. Yesterday he had not liked him. There 
were moments when he had hated him. But that mood 
and the reason for it seemed to have passed from him 
during the night. It was a far thing now, and Ulick 
Shannon was as he had been to John, who could not 
think ill of him. Yet it was curious that his mother 
should be hinting at things which, if he allowed his mind 
to dwell upon them at all, must bring back his feelings 
of yesterday. . . . But he felt that he must speak well 
of his friend. 

"Ah, sure there is nothing, mother. You are only 
fancying queer things. At college I have to meet hun- 
dreds of fellows. He 's not a bad chap, and I like speak- 
ing to him. It is lonely here without such intercourse. 
He realizes keenly how people are always talking of him, 
how the smallest action of his is construed and con- 
structed in a hundred different ways, until he's driven 
to do wild things out of very defiance to show what he 
thinks of the mean people of the valley and their opinion 
of him " 

"They're not much, I know " 


"But at heart, I think, he's somehow like myself, and 
I can 't help liking him. ' ' 

"All the same he shouldn't be going with a girl and, 
especially, a little chit of a schoolmistress like this one, 
for I can't stand her." 

Why did she continue to hammer so upon the pulse of 
his thought? . . . With bowed head he began to drift 
out of the room. Why had she driven him to think now 
of Rebecca Kerr? . . . He was already in the sunlight. 

To-day he would not go towards the lake, but up 
through the high green fields of Scarden. He was tak- 
ing The Imitation of Christ with him, and, under the 
shade of some noble tree, it was his intention to turn 
his thoughts to God and away from the things of life. 

It seemed grand to him, with a grandeur that had 
more than a touch of the color of Heaven, to be ascend- 
ing cool slopes through the green, soft grass and to be 
looking down upon the valley at its daily labor. The 
potatoes and turnips still required attention. He saw 
men move patiently behind their horses over the broken 
fields of red earth beneath the fine, clear clay, and 
thought that here surely was the true vocation of him 
who would incline himself unto God. . . . But how un- 
true was this fancy when one came to consider the real 
personality of these tillers of the soil? There was not 
one of whom Mrs. Brennan could not tell an ugly story. 
Not one who did not consider it his duty to say un- 
charitable things of Ulick Shannon and Rebecca Kerr. 
Not one who would not have danced with gladness if a 
great misfortune had befallen John Brennan, and made 
a holiday in Garradrimna if anything terrible had hap- 
pened to any one within the circle of their acquaintance. 


John Brennan 's attention was now attracted by a man 
who moved with an air of proprietorship among a field 
of sheep. He was a tall man in black, moving darkly 
among the white crowd of the sheep, counting them 
leisurely and allowing his mind to dwell upon the pag- 
eant of their perfect whiteness. He seemed to be reck- 
oning their value as the pure yield of his pastures. Here 
was another aspect of the fields. . . . The man in black 
was coming towards him with long strides. 

It took John some moments to realize that he had 
strayed into the farm of the Shannons and that this was 
Myles Shannon who was coming over to meet him. . . . 
He was a fine, clean man seen here amid the rich sur- 
roundings of his own fields. But he had advanced far 
into bachelorhood, and the russet was beginning to go 
out of his cheeks. It seemed a pity of the world that he 
had not married, for just there, hidden behind the bil- 
lowy trees, was the fine house to which he might have 
brought home a wife and reared up a family to love and 
honor him in his days. But his romance had been shat- 
tered by a piece of villainy which had leaped out from 
the darkness of the valley. And now he was living here 
alone. But he was serenely independent, exhibiting a 
fine contempt, as well he might, for the mean strugglers 
around him. He took his pleasures here by himself in 
this quiet house among the trees. Had he been asked to 
name them, he could have told you in three words 
books and drink. Not that they entered into his life to 
any great extent, for he was a wise man even in his in- 
dulgence. . . . But who was there to see him or know 
since he did not choose to publish himself in Garra- 
drimna? And there was many a time when he worked 


himself into a great frenzy while brooding over the story 
of his dead brother Henry, and his own story, and Nan 
Byrne. . . . Even now he was thinking darkly of Nan 
Byrne as he came forward to meet her son across his own 

" Good-day, Mr. Brennan!" he said affably. He had 
no personal grudge against this young man, but his 
scheme of revenge inevitably included him, for it was 
through John Brennan, her son, that Nan Byrne now 
hoped to aspire, and it was him she hoped to embody as 
a monument of her triumph over destructive circum- 
stances before the people of the valley. 

John went forward and shook the hand of Mr. Shan- 
non with deference. 

A fine cut of a man, surely, this Myles Shannon, stand- 
ing here where he might be clearly viewed. He ap- 
peared as a survival from the latter part of the Victorian 
era. He was still mutton-chopped and mustachioed 
after the fashion of those days. He wore a long-tailed 
black coat like a morning-coat. His waistcoat was of 
the same material. Across the expanse of it extended a 
wide gold chain, from which dangled a bunch of heavy 
seals. These shook and jingled with his every move- 
ment. His trousers were of a dark gray material, with 
stripes, which seemed to add to the height and erectness 
of his figure. His tall, stiff collar corrected the thought- 
ful droop of his head, and about it was tastefully fixed 
a wide black tie of shiny silk which reached down under- 
neath his low-cut waistcoat. His person was sur- 
mounted by an uncomfortable-looking bowler hat with 
a very hard, curly brim. 

When he smiled, as just now, his teeth showed in even, 


fine rows and exhibited some of the cruelty of one who 
has allowed his mind to dwell darkly upon a passionate 
purpose. But the ring of his laugh was hearty enough 
and had the immediate effect of dispelling suspicions of 
any sinister purpose. 

He said he was glad to see how his casual suggestion, 
made upon the day they had journeyed down from Dub- 
lin together, had borne fruit, that Mr. Brennan and his 
nephew, Ulick, had so quickly become friends. 

John thanked him, and began to speak in terms of 
praise about Ulick Shannon. 

Mr. Shannon again bared his even, white teeth in a 
smile as he listened. ... A strong friendship, with its 
consequent community of inclinations, had already been 
established. And he knew his nephew. 

"He's a clever chap, I'll admit, but he's so damned 
erratic. He seems bent upon crushing the experience of 
a lifetime into a few years. Why I'm a man, at the 
ripened, mellow period of life, and it's a fact that he 
could teach me things about Dublin and all that." 

John Brennan was uncertain in what way he should 
confirm this, but at last he managed to stammer out: 

"Ulick is very clever!" 

"He's very fond of Garradrimna, and I think he's 
very fond of the girls." 

"It's so dull around here compared with Dublin." 

John appeared a fool by the side of this man of the 
world, who was searching him with a look as he spoke 
again : 

"It's all right for a young fellow to gain his experi- 
ence as early as he can, but he's a bit too fond of his 
pleasure. He's going a bit too far." 


John put on a strained look of advocacy, but he spoke 
no word. 

"He's not a doctor yet, and even then his living would 
not be assured ; and do ye know what he had the cheek to 
come telling me the other night 

* ' ' I 've got infernally fond of that little girl, ' he says. 

" 'What girl?' I asked in amazement. 

" 'Why, that schoolmistress Rebecca Kerr. I'm 
"gone" about her. I'm in love with her. She's not at 
all like any of the others.' " 

Myles Shannon, with his keen eyes, saw the sudden 
light of surprise that leaped into the eyes of John Bren- 
nan. The passion of his hatred and the joy of his 
cruelty were stirred, and he went on to develop the plot 
of the story he had invented. 

"And what for," said I to him, "are you thinking of 
any girl in that way. I, as your guardian, am able to 
tell you that you are not in a position to marry. Surely 
you're not going to ruin this girl, or allow her to ruin 
you. Besides she is only a strolling schoolmistress from 
some unknown part of Donegal, and you are one of the 
Shannon family. 'But I'm "gone" about her,' was 
what Ulick said. How was I to argue against such a 
silly statement?" 

The color was mounting ever higher on John Bren- 
nan's cheeks. 

But the relentless man went on playing with him. 

"Of course I have not seen her, but, by all accounts, 
she 's a pretty girl and possesses the usual share of allure- 
ments. Is not that so ? " 

"She's very nice." 

"And, do you know what? It has come to me up 


here, although I may seem to be a hermit among the 
fields who takes no interest in the world, that you have 
been seen walking down the valley road together. D'ye 
remember yesterday morning, eh?" 

John was blushing still, and a kind of sickly smile 
made his fine face look queer. All kinds of expressions 
were trying to form themselves upon his tongue, yet not 
one of them could he manage to articulate. 

"Not that I blame a young fellow, even one intended 
for the Church, if he should have a few inclinations that 
way. But I can see that you are the good friend of my 
nephew, and indeed it would be a pity if anything came 
to spoil that friendship, least of all a bit of a girl. . . . 
And both of you being the promising young men you 
are. ... It would be terrible if anything like that 
should come to pass." 

Even to this John could frame no reply. But the 
ear of Mr. Shannon did not desire it, for his eye had 
seen all that he wished to know. He beheld John Bren- 
nan shivering as within the cold and dismal shadows of 
fatality. . . . They spoke little more until they shook 
hands again, and parted amid the dappled grass. 

To Myles Shannon the interview had been an extraor- 
dinary success. . . . Yet, quite suddenly, he found him- 
self beginning to think of the position of Rebecca Kerr. 


OUTSIDE the poor round of diversions afforded by 
the valley and her meetings with Ulick Shannon, 
the days passed uneventfully for Rebecca Kerr. It was 
a dreary kind of life, wherein she was concerned to avoid 
as far as possible the fits of depression which sprang 
out of the quality of her lodgings at Sergeant McGold- 
rick 's. 

She snatched a hasty breakfast early in the mornings, 
scarcely ever making anything like a meal. When she 
did it was always followed by a feeling of nausea as she 
went on The Road of the Dead towards the valley school. 
When she returned after her day 's hard work her dinner 
would be half cold and unappetizing by the red ashy fire. 
Mrs. McGoldrick would be in the sittting-room, where 
she made clothes for the children, the sergeant himself 
probably digging in the garden before the door, his tunic 
open, his face sweating, and the dirty clay upon his big 
boots. ... He was always certain to shout out some 
idiotic salutation as she passed in. Then Mrs. McGold- 
rick would be sure to follow her into the kitchen, a baby 
upon her left arm and a piece of soiled sewing in her 
right hand. She was always concerned greatly about 
the number at school on any particular day, and how 
Mrs. Wyse was and Miss McKeon, and how the average 
was keeping up, and if it did not keep up to a certain 
number would Mrs. Wyse 's salary be reduced, and what 



was the average required for Miss McKeon to get her 
salary from the Board, and so on. 

Sometimes Rebecca would be so sick at heart of school 
affairs and of this mean, prying woman that no word 
would come from her, and Mrs. McGoldrick would drift 
huffily away, her face a perfect study in disappointment. 
And against those there were times when Rebecca, with 
a touch of good humor, would tell the most fantastical 
stories of inspectors and rules and averages and incre- 
ments and pensions, Mrs. McGoldrick breathless between 
her "Well, wells!" of amazement. . . . Then Rebecca 
would have a rare laugh to herself as she pictured her 
landlady repeating everything to the sergeant, who 
would make mental comparisons the while of the curi- 
ous correspondence existing between those pillars of law 
and learning, the Royal Irish Constabulary, and the 
National Teachers of Ireland. 

Next day, perhaps, Mrs. McGoldrick would enlarge 
upon the excellent and suitable match a policeman and 
a teacher make, and how it is such a general thing 
throughout the country. She always concluded a dis- 
course of this nature by saying a thing she evidently 
wished Rebecca to remember: 

"Let me tell you this, now a policeman is the very 
best match that any girl can make!" 

And big louts of young constables would be jumping 
off high bicycles and calling in the evenings. . . . This 
was at the instigation of Mrs. McGoldrick, but they made 
no impression whatsoever upon Rebecca, even when they 
arrived in mufti. 

In school the ugly, discolored walls which had been so 
badly distempered by Ned Brennan ; the monotony of 


the maps and desks; the constant sameness of the chil- 
dren's faces. All this was infinitely wearying, but a 
more subtle and powerful torment arose beyond the hum 
of the children learning by heart. Rebecca always be- 
came aware of it through a burning feeling at the back 
of her neck. Glancing around she would see that, al- 
though presumably intent upon their lessons, many eyes 
were upon her, peering furtively from behind their 
books, observing her, forming opinions of her, and con- 
cocting stories to tell their parents when they went 
home. For this was considered an essential part of their 
training the proper satisfaction of their elders' curi- 
osity. It was one of the reasons why the bigger girls 
were sent to school. They escaped the drudgery of 
house and farm because they were able to return with 
fresh stories from the school every evening. Thus were 
their faculties for lying and invention brought into play. 
They feared Mrs. Wyse, and so these faculties came to 
be trained in full strength upon Rebecca. As she moved 
about the school-room, she was made the constant object 
of their scrutiny. They would stare at her with their 
mean, impudent eyes above the top edges of their books. 
Then they would withdraw them behind the opened 
pages and sneer and concoct. And it was thus the fore- 
noon would pass until the half-hour allowed for recrea- 
tion, when she would be thrown back upon the company 
of Mrs. Wyse and Monica McKeon. No great pleasure 
was in store for her here, for their conversation was 
always sure to turn upon the small affairs of the valley. 
There was something so ingenuous about the relations 
of Rebecca and IJlick Shannon that neither of the two 
women had the courage to comment upon the matter 


openly. But the method they substituted was a greater 
torture. In the course of half an hour they would sug- 
gest a thousand hateful things. 

"I heard Uliek Shannon was drunk last night, and 
having arguments with people in Garradrimna, " Miss 
McKeon would say. 

Mrs. Wyse would snatch up the words hastily. "Is 
that so? Oh, he's going to the bad. He'll never pass 
his exams., never I" 

" Isn't it funny how his uncle does not keep better 
control of him. Why he lets him do what he likes?" 

"Control, is it? It doesn't look much like control 
indeed to see him encouraging his dead brother's son to 
keep the company he favors. Indeed and indeed it 
gives me a kind of a turn when I see him going about 
with Nan Byrne's son, young John Brennan, who's going 
on to be a priest. Well, I may tell you that it is 'going 
on* he is, for his mother as sure as you're there'll never 
see him saying his first Mass. Now I suppose the poor 
rector of the college in England where he is hasn't a 
notion of his antecedents. The cheek of it indeed ! But 
what else could you expect from the likes of Nan Byrne ? 
Indeed I have a good mind to let the ecclesiastical au- 
thorities know all, and if nothing turns up from the 
Hand of God to right the matter, sure I'll have to do it 
myself. Bedad then I will ! ' ' 

"Musha, the same John Brennan doesn't look up to 
much, and they say Ulick Shannon can wind him around 
his little finger. He'll maybe make a lad of him before 
the end of the summer holidays." 

"I can't understand Myles Shannon letting them go 
about together so openly unless he's enjoying the whole 


thing as a sneer. But it would be more to his credit 
indeed to have found other material for his fun than a 
blood relation. I'm surprised at him indeed, and he 
knowing what he knows about Nan Byrne and his 
brother Henry. " 

With slight variations of this theme falling on her 
ears endlessly Rebecca was compelled to endure the tor- 
ture of this half hour every day. No matter what took 
place in the valley Monica would manage, somehow, to 
drag the name of Ulick into it. If it merely happened 
to be a copy of the Irish Independent they were looking 
at, and if they came upon some extraordinary piece of 
news, Monica would say: 

"Just like a thing that Ulick Shannon would do, isn't 

And if they came across a photo in the magazine sec- 
tion, Monica would say again: 

"Now wouldn't you imagine that gentleman has a 
look of Ulick Shannon?" 

Rebecca had become so accustomed to all this that, 
overleaping its purpose, it ceased to have any consider- 
able effect upon her. She had begun to care too much 
for Ulick to show her affection in even the glimpse of 
an aspect to the two who were trying to discover her 
for the satisfaction of their spite. It was thus that she 
remained a puzzle to her colleagues, and Monica in par- 
ticular was at her wit's end to know what to think. At 
the end of the half hour she was always in a deeper 
condition of defeat than before it began, and went out to 
the Boys' School with only one idea warming her mind, 
that, some day, she might have the great laugh at Re- 
becca Kerr. She knew that it is not possible for a 


woman to hide her feelings forever, even though she 
thought this one cute surely, cute beyond all the sugges- 
tion of her innocent exterior. 

Towards the end of each day Rebecca was thrown 
altogether with the little ones who, despite all the en- 
treaties of their parents, had not yet come very far away 
from Heaven. She found great pleasure in their com- 
pany and in their innocent stories. For example : 

"Miss Kerr, I was in the wood last night. With the 
big bear and the little bear in the wood. I went into 
the wood, and there was the big bear walking round 
and round the wood after the little bear, and the big 
bear was walking round and round the wood/' 

"I was in America last night, and I saw all the motor 
cars ever were, and people riding on horses, and the 
highest, whitest buildings ever were, and people going to 
Mass big crowds of people going to Mass. ' ' 

"My mammy brought me into the chapel last night, 
and I saw God. I was talking to God and He was ask- 
ing me about you. I said: 'Miss Kerr is nice, so she 
is.' I said this to God, but God did not answer me. 
I asked God again did He know Miss Kerr who teaches 
in the valley school, and He said He did, and I said 
again: 'Miss Kerr is nice, so she is.' But He went 
away and did not answer me." 

Rebecca would enter into their innocence and so ex- 
perience the happiest hours of the day. 

She would be recalled from her rapt condition by the 
harsh voice of Mrs. Wyse shouting an order to one of 
the little girls in her class, this being a hint that she 
herself was not attending to her business. 

But soon the last blessed period of the day would 


come, the half hour devoted to religious instruction. 
She found a pleasure in this task, for she loved to hear 
the little children at their prayers. Sometimes she 
would ask them to say for her the little prayer she had 
taught them: 

"0 God, I offer up this prayer for the poor inten- 
tions of Thy servant Eebecca Kerr, that they may be 
fulfilled unto the glory of Thy Holy Will. And that 
being imperfect, she may approach to Thy Perfection 
through the Grace and Mercy of Jesus Christ, Our 

She would feel a certain happiness for a short space 
after this, at least while the boisterous business of taking 
leave of the school was going forward. But once upon 
the road she would be meeting people who always stared 
at her strangely, and passing houses with squinting win- 
dows. . . . Then would come a heavy sense of depres- 
sion, which might be momentarily dispelled by the ap- 
pearance of John Brennan either coming or going upon 
the road. For a while she had considered this happen- 
ing coincidental, but of late it had been borne in upon 
her that it was very curious he should appear daily 
at the same time. . . . The silly boy, and he with his 
grand purpose before him. . . . She would smile upon 
him very pleasantly, and fall into chat sometimes, but 
only for a few minutes. She looked upon herself as 
being ever so much wiser. And she thought it queer 
that he should find an attraction for his eyes in her form 
as it moved before him down the road. She always 
fancied that she felt low and mean within herself while 
his eyes were upon her. . . . But he would be forever 


coming out of his mother's cottage to meet her thus 
upon the road. 

After dinner in the house of Sergeant McGoldrick she 
would betake herself to her little room. It would be 
untidy after the hurry in which she had left it, and 
now she would set about putting it to rights. This 
would occupy her half an hour or more. Then there 
would be a few letters to be written, to her people away 
in Donegal and to some of the companions of her train- 
ing college days. She kept up a more or less regular 
correspondence with about half-a-dozen of these girls. 
Her letters were all after the frivolous style of their 
schooldays. To all of them she imparted the confidence 
that she had met "a very nice fellow" here in Garra- 
drimna, but that the place was so lonely, and how there 
was "nothing like a girl friend." 

"Ah, Anna," she would write, or "Lily" or "Lena," 
"There's surely nothing after all like a girl friend." 

After tea she would put on one of her tidiest hats, and 
taking the letters with her go towards the Post Office of 
Garradrimna. This was a torture, for always the eyes 
of the old, bespectacled maid were upon her, looking 
into her mind, as she stood waiting for her stamps out- 
side the ink-stained counter. And, further, she always 
felt that the doors and windows of the village were 
forever filled with eyes as she went by them. Her neck 
and face would burn until she took the road that led 
out past the old castle of the De Lacys.. There was a 
footpath which took one to the west gate of the demesne 
of the Moores. The Honorable Reginald Moore was the 
modern lord of Garradrimna. It was this way she would 


go, meeting all kinds of stragglers from the other end 
of the parish. People she did not know and who did 
not know her, queer, dark men coming into Garradrinma 
through the high evening in quest of porter. 

"Fine evening, miss!" they would say. 

Once on the avenue her little walk became a golden 
journey for Ulick always met her when she came this 
way. It was their custom to meet here or on The Road 
of the Dead. But this was their favorite spot, where 
the avenue led far into the quiet woods. A scurrying- 
away of rabbits through the undergrowth would an- 
nounce their approach to one another. 

Many were the happy talks they had here, of books and 
of decent life beyond the boorishness of Garradrimna. 
She had given him The Poems of Tennyson in exchange 
for The Daffodil Fields. Tastefully illuminated in red 
ink on the fly-leaf he had found her "favorite lines" 
from Tennyson, whom she considered "exquisite": 

"Glitter like a storm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid." 

"Cursed be the gold that gilds the straightened forehead of the 

"Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships, 
And our spirits rushed together at the touching of the lips." 

These had made him smile, and then lie did not read 
any more of Tennyson. . . . He was fond of telling her 
about the younger Irish poets and of quoting passages 
from their poems. Now it would be a line or so from 
Colum or Stephens, again a verse from Seumas 'Sulli- 
van or Joseph Campbell. Continually he spoke with 


enthusiasm of the man they called -33. . . . She found it 
difficult to believe that such men could be living in Ire- 
land at the present time. 

"And would you see them about Dublin?' 7 

"Yes, you'd see them often." 

"Real poets?" 

"Real poets surely. But of course they have earthly 
interests as well. One is a farmer " 

"A farmer!!!" 

This she found it hardest of all to believe, for the word 
"farmer" made her see so clearly the sullen men with 
the dirty beards who came in the white roads every eve- 
ning to drink in Garradrimna. There was no poetry 
in them. 

Often they would remain talking after this fashion 
until night had filled up all the open spaces of the woods. 
They would feel so far away from life amid the perfect 
stillness. . . . Their peace was rudely shattered one 
night by a sudden breaking away from them through 
the withered branches. . . . Instantly Ulick knew that 
this was some loafer sent to spy on them from Garra- 
drimna, and Rebecca clung to him for protection. 

Occasionally through the summer a lonely wailing 
had been heard in the woods of Garradrimna at the fall 
of night. Men drinking in the pubs would turn to one 
another and say: 

"The Lord save us! Is that the Banshee I hear cry- 
ing for one of the Moores? She cries like that always 
when one of them dies, they being a noble family. 
Maybe the Honorable Reginald is after getting his death 
at last in some whore-house in London." 


"Arrah not at all, man, sure that's only Anthony 
Shaughness and he going crying through the woods for 
drink, the poor fellow!" 

But the sound had ceased to disturb them for Anthony 
Shaughness had found an occupation at last. This eve- 
ning he came running down from the woods into Mc- 
Dermott's bar, the loose soles of his boots slapping 
against the cobbles of the yard. Josie Guinan went up 
to him excitedly when he entered. 

''Well?" This in a whisper as their heads came close 
together over the counter. 

' ' Gimme a drink ? I 'm choked with the running, so I 

"Tell me did you see them first, or not a sup you'll 
get. Don't be so smart now, Anthony Shaughness!" 

"Oh, I saw them all right. Gimme the drink?" 

She filled the drink, making it overflow the glass in 
her hurry. 


"Bedad I saw them all right. Heard every word 
they were saying, so I did, and everything ! It was the 
devil's father to find them, so it was, they were that 
well hid in the woods. . . . Gimme another sup, Josie ? ' ' 

"Now, Anthony?" 

"Ah, but you don't know all I have to tell ye !" 

Again she overflowed the glass in her mounting ex- 



THE summer was beginning to wane, August having 
sped to its end. The schools had given vacation, 
and Rebecca Kerr had gone away from the valley to 
Donegal. Ulick Shannon had returned to Dublin. 
This was the uneventful season in the valley. Mrs. 
Brennan, finding little to talk about, had grown quiet 
in herself. Ned had taken his departure to Ballinamult, 
where he was engaged in putting some lead upon the 
roof of the police-barracks. He was drinking to his 
heart's content, she knew, and would come home to her 
without a penny saved against his long spell of idle- 
ness or the coming rigors of the winter. But she was 
thankful for the present that he had removed himself 
from the presence of his son. It was not good for such 
a son to be compelled to look upon such a father. She 
had prayed for this blessing and lo ! it had come. And 
it extended further. Ulick Shannon too was gone from 
the valley, and so she was no longer annoyed by seeing 
him in company with her son. Their friendship had 
progressed through the months of July and August, and 
she was aware that they had been seen together many 
times in Garradrimna. She did not know the full 
truth but, as on the first occasion, the lake could tell. 
Rebecca Kerr was gone, and so there was no need to 
speak of this strange girl for whom some wild feeling 
had enkindled a flame of hatred within her. Thus was 



she left in loneliness and peace to dwell upon the won- 
der of her son. He seemed more real to her during 
these quiet days, nearer perhaps, than he had ever been 
since she had first begun to dream her great dream. 

Of late he had taken to his room upstairs, where he 
did a little study daily. ' ' So that it won 't be altogether 
too strange when I go back again to college," he told 
her on more than one occasion when she besought him 
not to be blinding his eyes while there was yet leisure to 
rest them. There were times during the long quiet day 
in the house when her flood of love for him would so well 
up within her that she would call him down for no other 
reason than that she might have the great pleasure of 
allowing her eyes to rest upon him for a short space only. 
She would speak no word at all, so fearful would she be 
of disturbing the holy peace which fell between them. 
In the last week of his present stay in the valley this 
happened so often that it became a little wearying to 
John, who had begun to experience a certain feeling of 
independence in his own mind. It pained him greatly 
now that his mother should love him so. ... And there 
were many times when he longed to be back in his Eng- 
lish college, with his books and friends, near opportuni- 
ties to escape from the influences which had conspired to 
change him. 

One morning, after his mother had gazed upon him in 
this way, he came out of the house and leaned over the 
little wicket gate to take a look at the day. It was ap- 
proaching Farrell McGuinness's time to be along with 
the post, and John expected him to have a letter from 
the rector of the College giving some directions as to the 
date of return. Yet he was not altogether so anxious 


to return as he had been towards the ends of former 
vacations. ... At last Farrell McGuinness appeared 
around the turn of the road. His blue uniform was 
dusty, and he carried his hard little cap in his hand. 
He dismounted from his red bicycle and took two letters 
out of his bag. He smirked obviously as he performed 
this action. John glanced in excitement at the letters. 
One was addressed in the handwriting of his friend 
Ulick Shannon and the other in the handwriting of a 
girl. It was this last one that had caused Farrell Mc- 
Guinness to smirk so loudly. 

'Tis you that has the times, begad!" he said to 
John as he mounted his red bicycle and went on up the 
road, fanning his hot brow with his hard cap. 

Mrs. Brennan came to the door to hear tidings of the 
letters from her son, but John was already hurrying 
down through the withering garden, tearing open both 
letters simultaneously. 

"Who are they from?" she called out. 

"From Ulick Shannon." 

"And th 'other one?" 

"From a chap in the college," he shouted across his 
shoulder, lying boldly to her for the first time in his 
life. But if only she could see the confusion upon his 

She went back into the sewing-room, a feeling of an- 
noyance showing in the deep lines about her eyes. It 
seemed strange that he had not rushed immediately into 
the house to tell her what was in the letters, strange 
beyond all how he had not seen his way to make that 
much of her. 

Down the garden John was reading Rebecca Kerr's 


letter first, for it was from her that the letter from * * one 
of the chaps in the college" had come. 

It told of how she was spending her holidays at a sea- 
side village in Donegal. "It is even far quieter than 
Garradrimna and the valley. I go down to the sea in 
the mornings, but it is only to think and dream. The sea 
is just like one big lake, more lonely by far than the 
lake in the valley. This is surely the loneliest place you 
could imagine, but there is a certain sense of peace about 
it that is quite lovely. It is some distance from my 
home, and it is nice to be amongst people who have no 
immense concern for your eternal welfare. I like this, 
and so I have avoided making acquaintances here. But 
next week I am expecting a very dear friend to join me, 
and so, I dare say, my holidays will have a happy end- 
ing after all. I suppose you will have gone from the 
valley when I go back in October. And it will be the 
dreary place then. . . . " She signed herself, ' ' Yours 
very sincerely, Rebecca Kerr." 

His eyes were dancing as he turned to read Ulick 
Shannon 's letter. . . . In the opening passages it treated 
only in a conventional way of college affairs, but sud- 
denly he was upon certain lines which to his mind 
seemed so blackly emphasized : 

"Now I was just beginning to settle back into the 
routine of things when who should come along but Miss 
Kerr? She was looking fine. She stayed a few days 
here in Dublin, and I spent most of them with her. I 
gave her the time of her life, the poor little thing ! The- 
aters every night, and all the rest of it. She was just 
lost for a bit of enjoyment. Grinding away, you know, 
in those cursed National Schools from year's end to 


year's end. Do you know what it is, John? I am get- 
ting fonder and fonder of that girl. She is the best 
little soul in all the world. 

"She is spending her holidays up in some God-for- 
saken village in Donegal. Away from her people and 
by herself, you know. She has a girl friend going to 
see her next week. You will not be able to believe it 
probably but I am the girl friend." 

He read them and re-read them, these two letters 
which bore so intimately upon one another and which, 
through the coincidence of their arrival together, held 
convincing evidence of the dramatic moment that had 
arrived in the adventure of those two lives. 

He became filled by an aching feeling that made him 
shiver and grow weak as if with some unknown expecta- 
tion. . . . Yet why was he so disturbed in his mind as 
to this happening; what had he to do with it? He was 
one whose life must be directed away from such things. 
But the vision of Rebecca Kerr would be filling his eyes 
forever. And why had she written to him? Why had 
she so graphically pictured her condition of loneliness 
wherein he might enter and speak to her ? His ac- 
quaintance with her was very slight, and yet he desired 
to know her beyond all the knowledge and beauty of the 
world. . . . And to think that it was Ulick Shannon 
who was now going where he longed to go. 

A heavy constraint came between him and his mother 
during the remaining days. He spoke little and moved 
about in meditation like one fearful of things about to 
happen. But she fondly fancied as always that he was 
immersed in contemplation of the future she had planned 
for him. She never saw him setting forth into the 


autumn fields, a book in his hand, that she did not fancy 
the look of austere aloofness upon his face to be the ex- 
pression of a priest reading his office. But thoughts of 
this kind were far from his mind in the fields or by the 
little wicket gate across which he often leaned, his eyes 
fixed upon the white, hard road which seemed to lead 

The day of his release at last came. Now that Ned 
was away from her, working in Ballinamult, she had 
managed to scrape together the price of another motor 
drive to Kilaconnaghan, but it was in the misfortune of 
things that Charlie Clarke's car should have been en- 
gaged for the very day of John's departure by the 
Houlihans of Clonabroney. It worried her greatly that 
she could not have this piece of grandeur upon this sec- 
ond occasion. Her intense devotion to religious litera- 
ture had made her superstitious to a distressing degree. 
It appeared to her as an omen across the path of John 
and her own magnification. But John did not seem to 

It was notable that through his advance into contem- 
plation he had triumphed over the power of the valley 
to a certain extent. So long as his mind had been alto- 
gether absorbed in thought of the priesthood he had 
moved about furtively, a fugitive, as it were, before the 
hateful looks of the people of the valley and the constant 
stare of the squinting windows. Now he had come into 
a little tranquillity and his heart was not without some 
happiness in the enjoyment of his larger vision. . . . 
And yet he was far from being completely at peace. 

As he sat driving with his mother in the ass-trap to 
Kilaconnaghan, on his way back to the grand college in 


England, his doubts were assailing him although he was 
so quiet, to all seeming, sitting there. Those who passed 
them upon the road never guessed that this pale-faced 
young man in black was at war with his soul. . . . Few 
words passed between him and his mother, for the con- 
straint of the past week had not yet been lifted. She 
was beginning to feel so lonely, and she was vexed with 
herself that the period of his stay in the valley had not 
been all she had dreamt of making it. It had been dis- 
appointing to a depressing extent, and now especially in 
its concluding stage. This sad excursion in the little 
ass-trap, without any of the pomp and circumstance 
which John so highly deserved, was a poor, mean ending. 
He was running over in his mind the different causes 
which had given this vacation its unusual character. 
First there came remembrance of his journey down from 
Dublin with Mr. Myles Shannon, who had then sug- 
gested the friendship with his nephew Ulick. Springing 
out of this thought was a very vivid impression of Gar- 
radrimna, that ugly place which he had discovered in its 
true colors for the first time; its vile set of drunkards 
and the few secret lapses it had occasioned him. Then 
there was his father, that fallen and besotted man whom 
the valley had ruined past all hope. As a more intimate 
recollection his own doubts of the religious life by the 
lakeside arose clear before him. And the lake itself 
seemed very near, for it had been the silent witness of 
all his moods and conditions, the dead thing that had 
gathered to itself a full record of his sojourn in the val- 
ley. But, above all, there was Rebecca Kerr, whom he 
had contrived to meet so often as she went from school. 
It was she who now brought light to all the darkened 


places of his memory. Her letter to him the other day 
was the one real thing he had been given to take away 
from the valley. How he longed to read it again ! But 
his mother's eyes were upon him. ... At last he began 
to have a little thought of the part she had played. 

Already they had reached the railway station of Kila- 
connaghan. They went together through the little wait- 
ing-room, which held sad memories for Mrs. Brennan, 
and out upon the platform, where a couple of porters 
leaned against their barrows chewing tobacco. Two or 
three passengers were sitting around beside their luggage 
waiting to take the train for Dublin. A few bank clerks 
from the town were standing in a little group which pos- 
sessed an imaginary distinction, laughing in a genteel 
way at a puerile joke from some of the London weekly 
journals. They were wearing sporting clothes and had 
fresh fags in their mouths. It was an essential portion 
of their occupation, this perpetual delight in watching 
the outgoing afternoon train. 

" Aren't they the grand-looking young swells?" said 
Mrs. Brennan; "I suppose them have the great jobs 

* ' Great ! ' ' replied John, quite unconscious of what he 

He spoke no other word till he took his place in the 
train. She kissed him through the open window and 
hung affectionately to his hand. . . . Then there flut- 
tered in upon them the moment of parting. . . . Smiling 
wistfully and waving her hand, she watched the train 
until it had rounded a curve. She lingered for a mo- 
ment by the advertisement for Jameson 's Whiskey in the 
waiting-room to wipe her eyes. She began to remember 


how she had behaved here in this very place on the day 
of John's home-coming, and of how he had left her 
standing while he talked to Myles Shannon. ... He 
seemed to have slipped away from her now, and her 
present thought made her feel that the shadow of the 
Shannon family, stretching far across her life, had at- 
tended his going as it had attended his coming. 

She went out to the little waiting ass and, mounting 
into the trap, drove out of Kilaconnaghan into the dark 
forest of her fears. 


THROUGH the earlier part of this term at college 
there was no peace in the mind of John Brennan, 
and his unsettled state arose, for the most part, from 
simple remembrance of things that had happened in the 
valley. Now it was because he could see again, some 
afternoon in the summer, Rebecca Kerr coming towards 
him down the road in a brown and white striped dress, 
that he thought was pretty, and swinging a sun-bonnet 
by its long cotton strings from her soft, small hand. Or 
again, some hour he had spent listening to Ulick Shan- 
non as he talked about the things of life which are 
marked only by the beauty of passion and death. Al- 
ways, too, with the aid of two letters he still treasured, 
his imagination would leap towards the creation of a 
picture Rebecca and Ulick together in far-off Donegal. 

He did not go home at Christmas because it was so 
expensive to return to Ireland, and in the lonely stretches 
of the vacation, when all his college friends were away 
from him, he felt that they must surely be meeting again, 
meeting and kissing in some quiet, dusky place Re- 
becca as he had seen her always and Ulick as he had 
known him. 

Even if he had wished to leave Ulick and Rebecca out 
of his mind, it would have been impossible, so persist- 
ently did his mother refer to both in her letters. There 
was never a letter which did not contain some allusion 



to "them two" or "that one" or "that fellow." In 
February, when the days began to stretch out again, he 
thought only of the valley coming nearer, with its long 
period of delight. . . . Within the fascination of his 
musing he grew forgetful of his lofty future. Yet there 
were odd moments when he remembered that he had 
moved into the valley a very different man at the begin- 
ning of last June. The valley had changed him, and 
might continue to change him when he went there again. 
Nothing came to stay the even rise of his yearning 
save his mother's letters, which were the same recitals at 
all times of stories about the same people. At no time 
did he expect to find anything new in them, and so it 
was all the stronger blow when from one letter leaped 
out the news that Ulick Shannon had failed to pass his 
final medical exam., and was now living at home in 
Scarden House with his uncle Myles. That he had been 
"expelled from the University and disgraced" was the 
way she put it. It did not please John to see that she 
was exulting over what had happened to Ulick while 
hinting at the same time that there was no fear of a like 
calamity happening to her son. To him it appeared as 
not at all such an event as one might exult about. It 
rather evoked pity and condolence in the thought that 
it might happen to any man. It might happen to him- 
self. Here surely was a fearful thing the sudden 
dread of his return to the valley, a disgrace for life, and 
his mother a ruined woman in the downfall of her son. 
. . . This last letter of hers had brought him to review 
all the brave thoughts that had come to him by the lake- 
side, wild thoughts of living his own life, not in the way 
appointed for him by any other person, but freely, after 


the bent of his own will. Yet when he came to think 
of it quietly there was not much he could do in the world 
with his present education. It seemed to have fitted him 
only for one kind of life. And his thoughts of the sum- 
mer might have been only passing distractions which 
must disappear with the full development of his mind. 
To think of those ideas ever coming suddenly to reality 
would be a blow too powerful to his mother. It would 
kill her. For, with other knowledge, the summer holi- 
days had brought him to see how much she looked for- 
ward to his becoming a priest. 

Quite unconsciously, without the least effort of his 
will, he found himself returning to his old, keen interest 
in his studies. He found himself coming back to his 
lost peace of mind. He felt somehow that his enjoy- 
ment of this grand contentment was the very best way 
he could flash back his mother 's love. Besides it was the 
best earnest he had of the enjoyment of his coming holi- 

Then the disaster came. The imminence of it had been 
troubling the rector for a long time. His college was in 
a state of disintegration, for the Great War had cast its 
shadow over the quiet walls. 

It was a charity college. This was a secret that had 
been well kept from the people of the valley by Mrs. 
Brennan. "A grand college in England" was the ut- 
most information she would ever vouchsafe to any in- 
quirer. She had formed a friendly alliance with the 
old, bespectacled postmistress and made all her things 
free of charge for keeping close the knowledge of John 's 
exact whereabouts in England. Yet there was never a 
letter from mother to son or from son to mother that 


the old maid did not consider it her bounden duty to 
open and read. 

The college had been supported by good people who 
could find nothing else to do with their money. But, in 
war-time, charity was diverted into other channels, and 
its income had consequently dwindled almost to vanish- 
ing point. Coupled with this, many of the students had 
left aside their books and gone into the Army. One 
morning the rector appeared in the lecture-hall to an- 
nounce to the remnant that the college was about to be 
closed for "some time." He meant indefinitely, but the 
poor man could not put it in that way. 

John heard the news with mingled feelings. In a 
dumb way he had longed for this after his return from 
the valley, but now he saw in it, not the arrival of a 
desired event, but a postponement of the great intention 
that had begun to absorb him again. He was achieving 
his desire in a way that made it a punishment. . . . To- 
morrow he would be going home. . . . But of course his 
mother knew everything by this time and was already 
preparing a welcome for him. 

The March evening was gray and cold when he came 
into the deserted station of Kilaconnaghan. It had been 
raining ceaselessly since Christmas, and around and 
away from him stretched the sodden country. He got a 
porter to take his trunk out to the van and stand it on 
end upon the platform. Then he went into the waiting- 
room to meet his mother. But she was not there. Nor 
was the little donkey and trap outside the station house. 
Perhaps she was coming to meet him with Charlie Clarke 
in the grand and holy motor car. If he went on he 
might meet them coming through Kilaconnaghan. He 


got the porter to take his box from its place on the plat- 
form and put it into the waiting-room. All down 
through the town there was no sign of them, and when 
he got out upon the road to Garradrimna and the valley 
there was no sign of them either. The night had fallen 
thick and heavy, and John, as he went on through the 
rain, looked forward to the comforting radiance of Char- 
lie Clarke's headlights suddenly to flash around every 
corner. But the car did not come and he began to grow 
weary of tramping through the wet night. All along 
the way he was meeting people who shouldered up to 
him and strove to peer into his face as he slipped past. 
He did not come on to the valley road by way of Garra- 
drimna, but instead by The Road of the Dead, down 
which he went slopping through great pools at every 
few yards. 

He was very weary when he came at last to the door 
of his mother's house. Before knocking he had listened 
for a while to the low hum of her reading to his father. 
Then he heard her moving to open the door, and imme- 
diately she was silhouetted in the lamp-light. 

' ' Is that you, John ? We knew you were coming home. 
We got the rector 's letter. ' ' 

He noticed a queer coldness in her tone. 

"I'd rather to God that anything in the world had 
happened than this. What '11 they say now? They'll 
say you were expelled. As sure as God, they'll say you 
were expelled ! ' ' 

He threw himself into the first chair he saw. 

"Did any one meet you down the road? Did many 
meet you from this to Kilaconnaghan ? " 


He did not answer. This was a curious welcome he 
was receiving. Yet he noticed that tears were beginning 
to creep into her eyes, which were also red as if from 
much recent weeping. 

"Oh, God knows, and God knows again, John, I'd 
rather have died than it should have come to this. And 
why was it that after all me contriving and after all me 
praying and good works this bitter cross should have 
fallen? I don't know. I can't think for what I am 
being punished and why misfortune should come to you. 
And what '11 they say at all at all? Oh you may depend 
upon it that it's the worst thing they'll say. But you 
mustn't tell them that the college is finished. For I 
suppose it's finished now the way everything is going 
to be finished before the war. But you mustn't say 
that. You must say that it is on special holidays you 
are, after having passed a special examination. And 
you must behave as if you were on holidays ! ' ' 

Such a dreadful anxiety was upon her that she ap- 
peared no longer as his mother, the infinitely tender 
woman he had known. She now seemed to possess none 
of the pure contentment her loving tenderness should 
have brought her. She was altogether concerned as to 
what the people would say and not as to the effect of 
the happening upon her son's career. He had begun 
to think of this for himself, but it was not of it that 
she was now thinking. . . . She was thinking of her- 
self, of her pride, and that was why she had not come 
t6 meet him. And now his clothes were wet and he 
was tired, for he had walked from Kilaconnaghan in 
the rain. 


Ned Brennan, stirring out of his drunken doze, mut- 
tered thickly: "Ah, God blast yourselves and your 
college, can't you let a fellow have a sleep be the fire 
after his hard day!" 


JOHN went from the kitchen to a restless night. 
Soon after daybreak he got up and looked out of 
the window. The crows had been flying across it darkly 
since the beginning of the light. He gazed down now 
towards the stretch of trees about the lake. They were 
dark figures in the somber picture. He had not seen 
them since autumn, and even then some of the bright- 
ness of summer had lingered with them. Now they 
looked as if they had been weeping. He could see the 
lake between the clumps of fir-trees. The water was all 
dark like the scene in which it was framed. It now 
beat itself into a futile imitation of billows, into a kind 
of make-believe before the wild things around that it 
was an angry sea, holding deep in its caverns the relics 
of great dooms. But the trees seemed to rock in enjoy- 
ment and to join forces with the wild things in torment- 
ing the lake. 

John looked at the clock. It was early hours, and 
there would be no need to go out for a long time. He 
went back to bed and remained there without sleep, 
gazing up at the ceiling. . . . He fell to thinking of 
what he would have to face in the valley now. . . . 
His mother had hinted at the wide scope of it last night 
when she said that she would rather anything in God's 
world had happened than this thing, this sudden 



home-coming. . . . She was thinking only of her 
own pride. It was an offense against her pride, he felt, 
and that was all. It stood to lessen the exalted position 
which the purpose of his existence gave her before the 
other women of the valley. But he had begun to feel 
the importance of his own person in the scheme of cir- 
cumstance by which he was surrounded. It had begun 
to appear to him that he mattered somehow; that in 
some undreamt-of way he might leave his mark upon 
the valley before he died. 

He would go to Mass in Garradrimna this morning. 
He very well knew how this attendance at morning Mass 
was a comfort to his mother. He was about to do this 
thing to please her now. Yet, how was the matter going 
to affect himself? He would be stared at by the very 
walls and trees as he went the wet road into Garra- 
drimna; and no matter what position he might take up 
in the chapel there would be very certain to be a few 
who would come kneeling together into a little group 
and, in hushed tones within the presence of their God 
upon the altar, say: 

"Now, isn't that John Brennan I see before me, or 
can I believe my eyes ? Aye, it must be him. Expelled, 
I suppose. Begad that's great. Expelled! Begad!" 
If he happened to take the slightest side-glance around, 
he would catch glimpses of eyes sunk low beneath brows 
which published expressions midway between pity and 
contempt, between delight and curiosity. ... In some 
wonderful way the first evidence of his long hoped for 
downfall would spread throughout the small congrega- 
tion. Those in front would let their heads or prayer- 
books fall beside or behind them, so that they might have 


an excuse for turning around to view the young man 
who, in his unfortunate presence here, stood for this 
glad piece of intelligence. The acolytes serving Father 
O'Keeffe, and having occasional glimpses of the con- 
gregation, would see the black-coated figure set there in 
contradistinction to Charlie Clarke and the accustomed 
voteens with the bobbing bonnets. In their wise looks 
up at him they would seem to communicate the news 
to the priest. 

And although only a very few seconds had elapsed, 
Father O'Keeffe would have thrown off his vestments 
and be going bounding towards the Presbytery for his 
breakfast as John emerged from the chapel. It would 
be an ostentatious meeting. Although he had neither 
act nor part in it, nor did he favor it in any way, 
Father O'Keeffe always desired people to think that it 
was he who was " doing for Mrs. Brennan's boy beyond 
in England." . . . There would be the usual flow of 
questions, a deep pursing of the lips, and the sudden 
creation of a wise, concerned, ecclesiastical look at every 
answer. Then there was certain to come the final brutal 
question: "And what are you going to do with your- 
self meanwhile, is it any harm to ask?" As he con- 
tinued to stare up vacantly at the ceiling, John could 
not frame a possible answer to that question. And yet 
he knew it would be the foremost of Father O'Keeffe 's 

There would be the hurried crowding into every door- 
way and into all the squinting windows as he went past. 
Outwardly there would be smiles of welcome for him, 
but in the seven publichouses of Garradrimna the exulta- 
tion would be so great as to make men who had been 


ancient enemies stand drinks to one another in the mo- 
ment of gladness which had come upon them with the 
return of John Brennan. 

" 'Tis expelled he is like Ulick Shannon. That's as 
sure as you're there!" 

"To be sure he's expelled. And wouldn't any one 
know he was going to be expelled the same as the other 
fellow, the way they were conducting themselves last 
summer, running after gerrls and drinking like hell?" 

"And did ye ever hear such nonsense? The idea of 
him going on for to be a priest!" Then there would 
be a shaking of wise heads and a coming of wise looks 
into their faces. 

He could see what would happen when he met the 
fathers of Garradrimna, when he met Padna Padna or 
Shamesy Golliher. There would be the short, dry laugh 
from Padna Padna, and a pathetic scrambling of the 
dimming intelligence to recognize him. 

"And is that you, John? Back again! Well, boys- 
a-day! And isn't it grand that Ulick Shannon is at 
home these times too? Isn't it a pity about Ulick, for 
he's a decent fellow? Every bit as decent as his father, 
Henry Shannon, was, and he was a damned decent 
fellow. Ah, 'tis a great pity of him to be exshpelled. 
Aye, 'tis a great pity of any one that does be exsh- 

The meeting with Shamesy Golliher formed as a clearer 
picture before his mind. 

"Arrah me sound man, John, sure I thought you'd 
be saying the Mass before this time. There's nothing 
strange in the valley at all. Only 'tis harder than ever 
to get the rabbits, the weeshy devils! Only for Ulick 


Shannon I don't know what I'd do for a drink some- 
times. But, damn it, he's the decentest fellow. . . . 
You 're only a few minutes late, sure 'tis only this blessed 
minute that Miss Kerr's gone on to the school. . . . 
And you could have been chatting with her so grandly 
all the way!" 

That John Brennan should be thinking after this 
fashion, creating all those little scenes before the eye of 
his mind and imagining their accompanying conversa- 
tions, was indicative of the way the valley and the 
village had forced their reality upon him last summer. 
But this pictured combination of incidents was intensi- 
fied by a certain morbid way of dwelling upon things 
his long spells of meditation by the lake had brought 
him. Yet he knew that even all his clear vision of the 
mean ways of life around him would not act as an in- 
centive to combat them but, most extraordinary to 
imagine, as a sort of lure towards the persecution of 
their scenes and incidents. 

"It must be coming near time to rise for Mass," he 
said aloud to himself, as he felt that he had been quite 
a long time giving himself up to speculations in which 
there was no joy. 

There was a tap upon the door. It was his mother 
calling him, as had been her custom during all the days 
of his holiday times. The door opened and she came into 
the room. Her manner seemed to have changed some- 
what from the night before. The curious look of ten- 
derness she had always displayed while gazing upon 
him seemed to have struggled back into her eyes. She 
came and sat by the bedside and, for a few moments, 
both were silent. 


" 'Tis very cold this morning, mother/' was the only 
thing John could think of saying. 

A slight confusion seemed to have come upon her 
since her entrance to the room. Without any warning 
by a word, she suddenly threw her arms about him as 
he lay there on the bed and covered his face with kisses. 
He was amazed, but her kisses seemed to hurt him. . . . 
It must have been years and years since she had kissed 
him like this, and now he was a man. . . . When she 
released him so that he could look up at her he saw that 
she was crying. 

"I'm sorry about last night, John," she said. "I'm 
sorry, darling; but surely I could not bring myself to 
do it. Even for a few hours I wanted to keep them from 
knowing. I even wanted to keep your father from 
knowing. So I did not tell him until I heard your poor, 
wet foot come sopping up to the door. He did not 
curse much then, for he seems to have begun to feel a 
little respect for you. But the curses of him all through 
the night were enough to lift the roof off the house. 
Oh, he's the terrible man, for all me praying and all 
me reading to him of good, holy books ; and 'tis no won- 
der for all kinds of misfortune to fall, though God be- 
tween us and all harm, what am I saying at all? . . . 
It was the hard, long walk down the wet, dark road 
from Kilaconnaghan last night, and it pained me every 
inch of the way. If it hurt your feet and your limbs, 
avic, remember that your suffering was nothing to the 
pain that plowed through your mother's heart all the 
while you were coming along to this house. . . . But 
God only knows I couldn't. I couldn't let them see 
me setting off into the twilight upon the little ass, and I 


going for me son. I even went so far as to catch the 
little ass and yoke him, and put on the grand clothes 
I was decked out in when I met you last June with the 
motor. But somehow I hadn't the heart for the journey 
this time, and you coming home before you were due. 
I couldn't let them see me! I couldn't let them see 
me, so I couldn't!" 

"But it is not my fault, mother. I have not brought 
it about directly by any action of mine. It comes from 
the changed state of everything on account of the Great 
War. You may say it came naturally." 

"Ah, sure I know that, dear, I know it well, and don't 
be troubling yourself. In the letter of the rector before 
the very last one didn't he mention the change of re- 
signed application that had at last come to you, and that 
you had grown less susceptible I think that is the 
grand word he used aye, less susceptible to distrac- 
tions and more quiet in your mind? And I knew as 
well as anything that it was coming to pass so beauti- 
fully, that all the long prayers I had said for you upon 
me two bare, bended knees were after being heard at 
last, and a great joy was just beginning to come surg- 
ing into me heart when the terrible blow of the last 
letter fell down upon me. But sure I used to be having 
the queerest dreams r and I felt that nothing good was 
going to happen when Ulick Shannon came down here 
expelled from the University in Dublin. You used to 
be a great deal in his company last summer, and mebbe 
there was some curse put upon the both of you together. 
May God forgive me, but I hate that young fellow like 
poison. I don't know rightly why it is, but it vexes 
me to see him idling around the way he is after what's 


happened to him. Bragging about being expelled he 
bees every day in McDermott's of Garradrimna. And 
his uncle Myles is every bit as bad, going to keep him at 
home until the end of next summer. "To give him time 
to think of things,' he says. 'I'm going to find a use 
for him/ he says to any one that asks him, 'never you 
fear!' Well, begad, 'tis a grand thing not to know 
what to do with your money like the Shannons of Scar- 
den Hill. . . . But sure I'm talking and talking. 'Tis 
what I came in to tell you now of the plan I have been 
making up all night. If we let them see that we're 
lying down under this misfortune we 're bet surely. We 
must put a brave face upon it. You must make a big 
show-off that you're after getting special holidays for 
some great, successful examination you've passed ahead 
of any one else in the college. I'll let on I'm delighted, 
and be mad to tell it to every customer that comes into 
the sewing-room. But you must help me; you must 
go about saying hard things of Ulick Shannon that's 
after being expelled, for that's the very best way you 
can do it. He'll mebbe seek your company like last 
year, but you must let him see for certain that you con- 
sider yourself a deal above him. But you musn't be 
so quiet and go moping so much about the lake as you 
used to. You must go about everywhere, talking of 
yourself and what you're going to be. Now you must 
do all this for my sake won't you, John?" 

His tremulous "yes" was very unenthusiastic and 
seemed to hold no great promise of fulfilment. These 
were hard things his mother was asking him to do, and 
he would require some time to think them over. . . . 
But even now he wondered was it in him to do them 


at all. The attitude towards Ulick Shannon which she 
now proposed would be a curious thing, for they had 
been the best of friends. 

"And while you're doing this thing for me, John, 
I'll be going on with me plans for your future. It 
was me, and me only, that set up this beautiful plan of 
the priesthood as the future I wanted for you. I got 
no one to help me, I can tell you that. Only every one 
to raise their hands against me. And in spite of all 
that I carried me plan to what success the rector spoke 
of in his last letter. And even though this shadow 
has fallen across it, me son and meself between us are 
not going to let it be the end. For I want to see you a 
priest, John. I want to see you a priest before I die. 
God knows I want to see that before I die. Nan Byrne 's 
son a priest before she dies!" 

Her speech mounted to such a pitch of excitement 
that towards the end it trailed away into a long, frenzied 
scream. It awoke Ned Brennan where he dozed fitfully 
in the next room, and he roared out: 

"Ah, what the hell are yous gosthering and croaking 
about in there at this hour of the morning, the two of 
yous? It'd be serving you a lot better to be down 
getting me breakfast, Nan Byrne!" 

She came away very quietly from the bedside of her 
son and left the room. John remained for some time 
thinking over the things she had been saying. Then 
he rose wearily and went downstairs. It was only now 
he noticed that his mother had dried his clothes. It 
must have taken her a good portion of the night to 
do this. His boots, which had been so wet and muddy 
after his walk from Kilaconnaghan, were now polished 


to resplendence and standing clean and dry beside the 
fire. The full realization of these small actions brought 
a fine feeling of tenderness into his mind. . . . He 
quickly prepared himself to leave the house. She ob- 
served him with concern as she went about cooking the 
breakfast for her man. 

"You're not going to Mass this morning, are ye, 

"Oh, no!" he replied with a nervous quickness. 
"Our chat delayed me. It is now past nine." 

"Ah, dear, sure I never thought while I was talking. 
The last time I kept you it was the morning after the 
concert, and even then you were in time for 'half -past 
eight ' . . . But sure, anyhow, you 're too tired this 
morning. ' ' 

"I'm going for a little walk before breakfast." 

The words broke in queerly upon the thought she 
had just expressed, but his reason was nothing more 
than to avoid his father, who would be presently snap- 
ping savagely at his breakfast in the kitchen. 

The wet road was cheerless and the bare trees and 
fields were cold and lonely. Everything was in contrast 
to the mood in which he had known it last summer. It 
seemed as if he would never know it in that mood again. 
Now that he had returned it was a poor thing and very 
small beside the pictures his dream had made. ... He 
was wandering down The Road of the Dead and there 
was a girl coming towards him. He knew it was Ee- 
becca Kerr, and this meeting did not appear in the 
least accidental. 

She was dressed, as he had not previously seen her, 
in a heavy brown coat, a thick scarf about her throat and 


a ^pretty velvet cap which hid most of her hair. Her 
small feet were well shod in strong boots, and she came 
radiantly down the wet road. A look of surprise sprang 
into her eyes when she saw him, and she seemed uncer- 
tain of herself as they stopped to speak. 

"Back again?" she said, not without some inquisitive 
surprise in her tones. 

"Yes, another holiday," he said quickly. 

"Nothing wrong?" she queried. 

"Well, well, no; but the college has closed down for 
the period of the war." 

"That is a pity. " 

He laughed a queer, excited little laugh, in which 
there did not seem to be any mirth or meaning. Then 
he picked himself up quickly. 

"You won't tell anybody?" 

"What about?" 

"This that I have told you, about the college." 

"Oh, dear no!" she replied very quickly, as if amazed 
and annoyed that he should have asked her to respect this 
little piece of information as a confidence. And she 
had not reckoned on meeting him at all. Besides she 
had not spoken so many words to him since the morning 
after the concert. 

She lifted her head high and went on walking be- 
tween the muddy puddles on the way to the valley school. 

John felt somewhat crushed by her abruptness, espe- 
cially after what he had told her. And where was the 
fine resolve with which his mother had hoped to infuse 
him of acting a brave part for her sake before the people 
of the valley? 


MYLES SHANNON and his nephew Ulick sat at 
breakfast in the dining-room of the big house 
among the trees. The Irish Times of the previous day's 
date was crackling in the elder man's hand. 

"Did you ever think of joining the Army, Ulick? It 
is most extraordinary, the number of ne 'er-do-wells who 
manage to get commissions just now. Why I think there 
should be no bother at all if you tried. With your 
knowledge I fancy you could get into the R.A.M.C. It 
is evidently infernally easy. I suppose your conduct 
at the University would have nothing to do with your 
chances of acceptance or rejection f " 

"Oh, not at all. 7 ' 

"I thought not." 

"But I fancied, uncle, that when I came down here 
from Dublin I had done with intending myself to kill 
people. That is, with joining any combination for pur- 
poses of slaughter.'* 

Myles Shannon lifted his eyes from the paper and 
smiled. Evidently he did not appreciate the full, grim 
point of the joke, but he rather fancied there was some- 
thing subtle about it, and it was in that quiet and vener- 
able tradition of humorous things his training had led 
him to enjoy. This was one of the reasons why, even 
though a Catholic and a moderate Nationalist, he had 



remained a devoted reader of the Irish Times. He was 
conservative even in his humor. 

"But in Army medical work, however, there is al- 
ways the compensating chance of the gentleman with 
the license to kill getting killed himself," continued 

His lips closed now, for he had at last come to the 
end of his joke. The conversation lapsed, and Mr. 
Shannon went on with his reading. Ulick had been to 
Garradrimna on the previous evening, and he was 
acutely conscious of many defects in his own condition 
and in the condition of the world about him this morn- 
ing. His thoughts were now extending with all the 
power of which they were capable to his uncle, that 
silent, intent man, whose bald head stretched expan- 
sively before him. 

Myles Shannon was a singularly fine man, and in 
thinking of him as such his mind began to fill with 
imaginations of the man his father must have been. 
He had never known his father nor, for the matter of 
that, could he boast of any deep acquaintance with his 
uncle, yet what an excellent, restrained type of man 
he was to be sure ! Another in the same position as his 
guardian would have flogged himself into a fury over 
the mess he had made of his studies. But it had not 
been so with his uncle. He had behaved with a calm 
forbearance. He had supplied him with time and money, 
and had gone even so far as to look kindly upon the 
affair with Rebecca Kerr. He had been here since the 
beginning of the year, and all his uncle had so far said 
to him by way of asserting his authority was spoken 
very quietly: 


"Now, I'll give you a fair time to think over things. 
I'll give you till the end of the summer holidays, till 
after young Brennan comes and goes." These had been 
his uncle's exact words, and he had not attempted to 
question them or to qualify them at the time. But just 
now they were running through his brain with the most 
curious throbbing insistence. "Till after young Bren- 
nan comes and goes." He knew v that his uncle had 
taken an unusual fancy to John Brennan and evidently 
wished that his summer holidays should be spent en- 
joyably. But it was a long time until summer, and he 
was not a person one might conscientiously commend 
to the friendship of a clerical student. He very often 
went to Garradrimna. 

Ulick had already formed some impressions of his fel- 
low man. He held it as his opinion that at the root of 
an action, which may appear extraordinary because of 
its goodness, is always an amount of selfishness. Yet, 
somehow, as he carefully considered his uncle in the 
meditative spaces of the breakfast he could not fit him 
'in with this idea. 

As he went on with his thought he felt that it was the 
very excess of his uncle's qualities which had had such 
a curious effect upon his relations with Kebecca Kerr. 
It was the very easiness of the path he had afforded 
to love-making which now made it so difficult. If they 
had been forbidden and if they had been persecuted, 
their early affection must have endured more strongly. 
The opposition of the valley and the village still con- 
tinued, but Ulick considered their bearing upon him now 
as he had always considered it with contempt. 

There had been a good deal of wild affection trans- 


ported into their snatched meetings during the past 
summer in Donegal. After Christmas, too, he had gone 
there to see her, and then had happened the climax of 
their love-making in a quiet cottage within sound of the 
sea. . . . Both had moved away from that glowing mo- 
ment forever changed. Neither could tell of the great- 
ness of the shadow that had fallen between them. 

He remembered all her tears on the first evening he had 
met her after coming back to the valley. There had been 
nothing in her letters, only the faintest suggestion of 
some strained feeling. Then had come this unhappy 
meeting. . . . She had tortured herself into the belief 
that it was she who was responsible for his failure. 

"With all the time you have wasted coming to see me 
I have destroyed you. When you should have been at 
your studies I was taking you up to Donegal. ' ' 

As he listened to these words between her sobs, there 
rushed in upon him full realization of all her goodness 
and the contrast of two pictures her words had called to 
his mind. . . . There was he by her side, her head upon 
his shoulder in that lonely cottage in Donegal, their 
young lives lighting the cold, bare place around them. 
. . . And then the other picture of himself bent low over 
his dirty, thumb-greased books in that abominable street 
up and down which a cart was always lumbering. All 
the torture of this driving him to Doyle's pub at the 
corner, and afterwards along some squalid street of ill- 
fame with a few more drunken medical students. 

He was glad to be with her again. They met very 
often during his first month at his uncle 's house, in dark 
spots along the valley road and The Road of the Dead. 
Then he began to notice a curious reserve springing up 


between them. She was becoming mysterious while at 
the same time remaining acutely present in his life. 

One morning she had asked him if he intended to re- 
main long in the valley, and he had not known how to 
reply to her. Another time she had asked him if he 
was going to retire altogether from the study of medicine, 
and with what did he intend to occupy himself now? 
And, upon a certain occasion, she had almost asked him 
was it the intention of his uncle to leave him the grand 
farm and the lovely house among the trees? 

These were vexatious questions and so different from 
any part of the talk they used to have here in the valley 
last summer or at the cottage in Donegal. Her feeling 
of surrender in his presence had been replaced by a 
sense of possession which seemed the death of all that 
kindling of her heart. Then it had happened that, de- 
spite the encouragement of his uncle, a shadow had fallen 
upon his love-affair with Rebecca Kerr. . . . He was 
growing tired of his idle existence in the valley. Very 
slowly he was beginning to see life from a new angle. 
He was disgusted with himself and with the mess he 
had made of things in Dublin. He could not say 
whether it was her talk with him that had shamed him 
into thinking about it, but he felt again like making 
something of himself away from this mean place. Once 
or twice he wondered whether it was because he wanted 
to get away from her. Somehow his uncle and himself 
were the only people who seemed directly concerned in 
the matter. His uncle was a very decent man, and he 
felt that he could not presume on his hospitality any 

Mr. Shannon took off his spectacles and laid by the 


Irish Times. There was an intimate bond between the 
man and his paper. He always considered it as hitting 
off his own opinions to a nicety upon any subject under 
the sun. This always after he had read the leaders which 
dealt with these subjects. It afforded a contribution to 
his thought and ideas out of which he spoke with a 
surer word. 

Old Susan Hennessy came into the room with some 
letters that Farrell McGuinness was after leaving. She 
hobbled in, a hunched, decrepit woman, now in the con- 
cluding stages of her long life as housekeeper to the 
Shannons, and put the letters into her master's hand. 
. . . Then she lingered, quite unnecessarily, about the 
breakfast-table. Her toothless gums were stripping as 
words began to struggle into her mouth. . . . Mr. Shan- 
non took notice of her. This was her usual behavior 
when she had anything of uncommon interest to say. 

"Well, what is it now?" said Mr. Shannon, not with- 
out some weariness in his tones, for he expected only to 
hear some poor piece of local gossip. 

"It's how Farrell McGuinness is after telling me, sir, 
that John Brennan is home." 

"Is that a fact?" 

"And Farrell says that by the look's on the outside of 
a certain letter that came to Mrs. Brennan th 'other day 
it is what he is after being expelled." 

"Expelled. Well, well!" 

There was a mixture of interest and anxiety in Mr. 
Shannon's tones. 

"A good many of those small English colleges are get- 
ting broken up and the students drifting into the Army, 
I suppose that's the reason ; but of course they'll say he's 


been expelled, " Ulick ventured as old Susan slipped 
from the room and down to the loneliness of the kitchen, 
where she might brood to her heart's content over this 
glad piece of information, for she was one who well knew 
the story of John Brennan 's mother and "poor Misther 
Henery Shannon." 

1 'Is that so?" The interest of Mr. Shannon was 
rapidly mounting towards excitement. 

"A case like that is rather hard," said Ulick. 

"Yes, it will be rather hard on Mrs. Brennan, I fancy, 
she being so stuck-up with pride in him." 

He could just barely hide his feelings of exultation. 

"And John Brennan is not a bad fellow." 

"I daresay he's not." 

There was now a curious note of impatience in the 
elder man's tones as if he wished, for some reason or 
other, to have done speaking of the matter. 

' ' It will probably mean the end of his intention for the 

' ' That is more than likely. These sudden changes have 
the effect of throwing a shadow over many a young fel- 
low's vocation." 

His eyes twinkled, but he fingered his mustache nerv- 
ously as he said this. 

"Funny to think of the two of us getting thrown down 
together, we being such friends!" 

The doubtful humor in the coincidence had appealed 
to the queer kink that was in the mind of Ulick, and it 
was because of it he now spoke. It was the merest wan- 
tonness that he should have said this thing, and yet it 
seemed instantly to have struck some hidden chord of 
deeper thought in his uncle's mind. When Myles Shan- 


non spoke again it was abruptly, and his words seemed 
to spring out of a sudden impulse: 

" You'd better think over that matter of the Army I 
have just mentioned. ' ' 

It was the first time his uncle Myles had spoken to 
him in this way, and now that the rod of correction had 
fallen even thus lightly he did not like it at all. He felt 
that his face was already flushing. . . . And into his 
mind was burning again the thought of how he had made 
such a mess of things. . . . He moved towards the door, 
and there was his uncle's voice again raised as if in the 
reproof of authority: 

"And where might you be going to-day V 9 

"Down the valley to see my friend John Brennan, 
who'll be surely lonely on the first day at home/' he said, 
rather hurriedly, as he went out in the hallway to get 
his overcoat. 

When Myles Shannon was left alone he immediately 
drifted into deeper thought there in the empty room with 
his back to the fire. With one hand he clasped his long 
coat-tails, and with the other nervously twirled his long 
mustache. He was thinking rapidly, and his thoughts 
were so strong within him that he was speaking them 

' ' I might not have gone so far. Don 't you see how I 
might have waited in patience and allowed the hand of 
Fate to adjust things ? See how grandly they are coming 
around. . . . And now maybe I have gone too far. 
Maybe I have helped to spoil Ulick's life into the bar- 
gain. And then there's the third party, this girl, Re- 
becca Kerr?" 

He looked straight out before him now, and away over 


the remains of the breakfast. . . . He crossed to the win- 
dow and gazed for a while over the wet fields. He moved 
into the cold, empty parlor and gazed from its window 
also over the fields. . . . Then he turned and for a space 
remained looking steadfastly at the bureau which held 
so much of Her. Quite suddenly he crossed over and 
unlocked it. ... Yes, there, with the other dead things, 
were the photograph of Helena Cooper and the letters 
she had written, and the letter John Brennan's mother 
had written about him. He raised his eyes from the few, 
poor relics and they gathered into their depths the lone- 
liness of the parlor. . . . Here was the picture of this 
girl, who was young and lovely, while around him, surg- 
ing emptily forever, was the loneliness of his house. It 
was Nan Byrne who had driven him to this, and it was 
Nan Byrne who had ruined his brother Henry. . . . And 
yet he was weakly questioning his just feelings of revenge 
against this woman, but for whom he might now be a 
happy man. He might have laughter in this house and 
the sound of children at play. But now he had none of 
these things, and he was lonely. ... He looked into the 
over-mantel, and there he was, an empty figure, full of a 
strong family pride that really stood for nothing, a polite 
survival from the mild romance of the early nineties of 
the last century, a useless thing amid his flocks and 
herds. A man who had none of the contentment which 
comes from the company of a woman or her children, a 
mean creature, who, during visits to the cattle-market, 
occasionally wasted his manhood in dingy adventure 
about low streets in Dublin. One who remained apart 
from the national thought of his own country reading 


queer articles in the Irish Times about "resolute" gov- 
ernment of Ireland. 

His head lay low upon his chest because he was a 
man mightily oppressed by a great feeling of abasement. 

"In the desolation of her heart through the destruction 
of her son," he muttered to himself, not without a cer- 
tain weariness, as he moved away from the mirror. 


WHENEVER a person from the valley went abroad 
now to fair or market the question was always 
asked : 

4 * Is it a fact that Ulick Shannon was expelled from 
the University in Dublin and is at home? And is it a 
fact that John Brennan is at home from the college he 
was at too, the grand college in England whose story his 
mother spread far and wide ? ' ' 

' ' That 's quite so, ma 'am. It 's a double fact ! ' ' 

"Well, well!" 

"And is it a fact that they do be always together, go- 
ing by back ways into the seven publichouses of Garra- 
drimna ? ' ' 

11 Oh, indeed, that's true, ma'am, and now you have 
the whole of it. Sure it was in the same seven public- 
houses that the pair of them laid the foundations of their 
ruination last summer. Sure, do ye know what I'm 
going to tell you? They couldn't be kept out of them, 
and that's as sure as you're there!" 

Now it was true that if Ulick had gone at all towards 
Garradrimna it was through very excess of spirits, and it 
was for the very same reason that he had enticed John 
Brennan to go with him. . . . That time they were full 
of hope and their minds were held by their thoughts of 
Rebecca. But now, somehow, she seemed to have slipped 



out of the lives of both of them. And because both had 
chosen. The feeling had entered into Ulick's heart. 
But in the case of John Brennan it was not so certain. 
What had brought him out upon the first morning of his 
homecoming to take a look at her? It would seem that, 
through the sudden quickening of his mind towards study 
just before the break-up of the college, he should have 
forgotten her. . . . His life now seemed to hang in the 
balance shudderingly ; a breath might direct it anyway. 

He felt that he should have liked to make some sugges- 
tions of his own concerning his future, but there was al- 
ways that tired look of love in his mother's eyes to frus- 
trate his intention. . . . Often he would go into the sew- 
ing-room of a morning and she would say so sadly as she 
bent over her machine * ' I 'm contriving, John ; I 'm con- 
triving!" He had come to the years of manhood and 
yet he must needs leave every initiative in her hands 
since she would have it so. ... Thus was he driven 
from the house at many a time of the day. 

He went to morning Mass as usual, but the day was 
long and dreary after that, for the weather was wet and 
the coldness of winter still lay heavy over the fields. 
The evenings were the dreariest as he sat over his books 
in his room and listened to the hum of his mother's ma- 
chine. Later this would give place to the tumultuous 
business of his father's home-coming from Garradrimna. 
Sometimes things were broken, and the noise would de- 
stroy his power of application. Thus it was that, for 
the most part, he avoided the house in the evenings. At 
the fall of dark he would go slipping along the wet road 
on his way to Garradrimna. Where the way from Scar- 
den joined the way from Tullahanogue he generally met 


Ulick Shannon, comfortably top-coated, bound for the 
same place. 

It seemed as if the surrounding power of the talk 
their presence in the valley had created was driving them 
towards those scenes in which that talk had pictured 
them. Through the dusk people would smirk at them as 
they were seen going the road. . . . They would slip into 
MeDermott's by the same back way that Ned Brennan 
had often gone to Brannagan's. Many a time did they 
pass the place in the woods where John had beheld the 
adventure of his father and the porter last summer. . . . 
In the bottling room of McDermott's they would fancy 
they were unseen, but Shamesy Golliher or Padna Padna 
or Thomas James would be always cropping up most 
unaccountably to tell the tale when they went out into the 
bar again after what would appear the most accidental 
glance into the bottling-room. . . . John would take port 
wine and Ulick whatever drink he preferred. But even 
the entertainment of themselves after this fashion did 
not evoke the subtle spell of last summer. There was no 
laughter, no stories, even of a questionable kind, when 
Josie Guinan came to answer their call. Every evening 
she would ask the question: 

"Well, how is Rebecca, Ulick ?" 

This gross familiarity irritated him greatly, for his 
decent breeding made him desire that she should keep her 
distance. Besides he did not want any one to remind him 
of Rebecca just now. He never answered this question, 
nor the other by which it was always followed : 

"You don't see her very often now, do ye? But of 
course the woods bees wet these times." 

The mere mention of Rebecca's name in this filthy 


place annoyed John Brennan, who thought of her con- 
tinuously as some one far beyond all aspects of Garra- 

Yet they would be forever coming here to invite this 
persecution. Ulick would ever and again retreat into 
long silences that were painful for his companion. But 
John found some solace come to him through the port 
wine. So much was this the case that he began to have a 
certain hankering after spending the evening in this way. 
When the night had fallen thick and dark over Garra- 
drimna they would come out of McDerrnott's and spend 
long hours walking up and down the valley road. Ulick 
would occasionally give vent to outbursts of talk upon 
impersonal subjects the war and politics, the tragic 
trend of modern literature. John always listened with 
interest. He never wished to return early to the house, 
for he dreaded the afflicted drone of his mother reading 
the holy books to his father by the kitchen fire. 

During those brief spells, when the weather brightened 
for a day or two, he often took walks down by the school 
and towards the lake. . . . Always he felt, through power 
of an oppressive realization, that the eyes of Master Don- 
nellan were upon him as he slipped past the school. . . . 
So he began to go by a lane which did not take him be- 
fore the disappointed eyes of the old man. 

Going this way one day he came upon a battered school- 
reader of an advanced standard, looking so pathetic in its 
final desertion by its owner, for there is nothing so lonely 
as the things a schoolboy leaves behind him. . . . He be- 
gan to remember the days when he, too, had gone to the 
valley school and there instituted the great promise 
which, so far, had not come to fulfilment. He was turn- 


ing over the leaves when he came on a selection from 
Carlyle's French Revolution "Thy foot to light on soft- 
ness, thy eye on splendor. ' ' He pondered it as he stood 
by the water's edge and until it connected itself with 
his thought of Rebecca. Thy foot to light on softness, 
thy eye on splendor. 

It would be nearing three o 'clock now, he thought, and 
Rebecca must soon be going from school. He might see 
her passing along between the muddy puddles on The 
Road of the Dead. 

He had fallen down before her again. 


IN the high, gusty evening Tommy Williams, the gom- 
been-man, was standing proudly at his own door sur- 
veying the street of Garradrimna. It was his custom to 
appear thus at the close of the day in contemplation of 
his great possessions. He owned four houses in the 
village, four proud buildings which advertised his worth 
before the beggars of the parish out of whom he had 
made the price of them. But he was distrustful of his 
customers to an enormous degree, and his purpose in 
standing thus at his own door was not altogether one of 
aimless speculation upon his own spacious importance in 
Garradrimna. He was watching to see that some people 
going down the valley road upon ass-carts did not at- 
tempt to take away any of the miscellaneous merchandise 
exhibited outside the door. As he stood against the 
background of his shop, from which he might be said 
to have derived his personality, one could view the man 
in his true proportions beneath his hard, high hat. His 
short beard was beginning to show tinges of gray, and 
the deepening look of preoccupation behind his glasses 
gave him the appearance of becoming daily more and 
more like John Dillon. 

Father O'Keeffe came by and said: "Good-evening, 
Tommy!" This was a tribute to his respectability and 
worth. He was the great man of the village, the head 
and front of everything. Events revolved around him. 



He would have you know that he was somebody, so he 
was. A politician after the fashion in the Ireland of his 
time, he organized and spoke at public meetings. He 
always wanted to be saying things in support of "The 
Cause." "The Cause" was to him a kind of poetic 
ideal. His patriotic imagination had intensified its 
glory. But it was not the future of Ireland he yearned 
to see made glorious. He looked forward only to the 
triumph of "The Cause." 

Upon the death of his father, also a patriot, the little 
mean huckstery at the tail end of the village street had 
descended to him; and although he had risen to the dig- 
nity and proprietorship of four houses, this establishment 
had never changed, for, among the many ancient super- 
stitions which crowded his mind, the hoary one of the 
existence of luck where there is muck occupied a place of 
prominence. And like his father he was a rebel in his 
mind. The more notable political mountebanks of his 
time were all men who had fought as upon a field of bat- 
tle. Words served them as weapons, and words were 
the weapons that he loved ; he might have died if he were 
not fighting, and to him talk meant battle. He used to 
collect all the supplemental pictures of those patriots 
from The Weekly Freeman and paste them in a scrap- 
book for edification of his eldest son, whom he desired 
to be some day a unit of their combination. An old- 
fashioned print of Dan 'Connell hung side by side with 
a dauby caricature of Robert Emmet in the old porter- 
smelling parlor off the bar. The names of the two men 
were linked inseparably with one of his famous phrases 
"The undying spirit of Irish Nationality." 

Occasionally, when he had a drunken and enthusiastic 


crowd in that part of his many-sided establishment which 
was a public bar, he would read out in a fine loud voice 
how "The Cause" was progressing, and, having learned 
by heart a speech of John Dillon's, he would lash it out 
to them as a composition of his own. Whereupon the 
doubly excited audience would shake his hand as one man 
and shout: "More power there, mister; 'tis yourself is 
the true Irishman, me sweet fellow !" He could be very 
funny too when occasion demanded, and tell stories of 
Father Healy of Bray at pleasant little dinners which 
took place in the upper story of his house after every 
political meeting held in Garradrimna. He never missed 
the opportunity and the consequent honor of singing 
"On an old Irish Hill in the Morning" at every one of 
those dinners. He was always warmly applauded by 
Father O'Keeffe, who invariably occupied the chair. He 
was treasurer of the fund, out of which he was paid for 
supplying all this entertainment. 

His wife was the daughter of a farmer of the "red- 
hat" class. He had been compelled to marry her. . . . 
If this had happened to a poor man the talk would have 
followed him to the grave. But they were afraid to talk 
censoriously of the patriot who had enveloped all of them. 
He practically owned them. . . . The priest could not 
deliver an attack upon the one who headed his lists of 
Offerings and Easter Dues and the numerous collections 
which brought in the decent total of Father O'Keeffe 's 

To Rebecca Kerr had been given the position of gov- 
erness to the Williams household. She had not sought 
it, but, on the removal of the two boys, Michael Joseph 
and Paddy, from the care of Master Donnellan to this 


more genteel way of imparting knowledge and giving cor- 
rection, which savored somewhat of the splendor ot the 
Moores of Garradrimna and the Houlihans of Clona- 
broney, had merely accepted it as part of the system 
of the place. She had fully anticipated such possibilities 
upon the very evening of her arrival. . . . Besides old 
Master Donnellan had thanked her from his heart for 
the release she had been the means of affording him, and 
she liked the master for a quiet, kind old man who did 
not prate or meddle. So far she had made little im- 
provement in either of the boys. But Mrs. Williams was 
evidently delighted for "our governess, Miss Kerr," was 
the one person she ever spoke a good word of to Father 

This evening Rebecca was in the parlor, seated just 
beneath the pictures of Dan O'Connell and Robert Em- 
met, wrestling hard with the boys. All at once her 
pupils commanded her to be silent. ' ' Whist ! ' ' they said 
in unison. She was momentarily amazed into eavesdrop- 
ping at their behest. . . . 

"Oh, not at all, Mrs. Brennan, sure and I couldn't 
think of the like at all at all!" 

"Well, Mr. Williams, as a well-known benefactor of 
the college at Ballinamult and a good, religious man to 
boot, I thought that mebbe you could give John a recom- 
mendation. It would be grand to see him there and he 
working himself up to the summit of his ambition. 
There would be a great reward to your soul for doing the 
like of that, Mr. Williams, as sure as you're there." 

"And now, woman-a-dear, what about my own sons, 
Michael Joseph and Paddy?" 

"Oh, indeed, there's no fear of them, Mr. Williams!" 


"But I could not think of jeopardizing them while I'd 
be doing for the families or the sons of the stranger/' 

"But sure, sir, I'll pay you at any rate of interest you 
like if only you could see your way to give me this help. 
Enough to buy a bicycle that'll take him over to Ballina- 
mult every day and your grand recommendation to the 
priests that'll be worth gold. I'll pay you every penny 
I can, and sure the poor boy will repay you everything 
when he comes into the position that's due to him." 

"Well, I don't know. I don't think the missus" 

At this very moment Mrs. Williams came into the 
parlor where Rebecca sat with them, and beamed upon 
her sons. 

"Oh, my poor boys, sure it is killed you are with the 
terrible strain of the study. Sure it is what you 'd better 
go out into the fields now with the pony; but mind, be 
careful ! You poor little fellows ! ' ' 

Michael Joseph and Paddy at once snatched up their 
caps and rushed for the door. So much for the extent of 
their training and Rebecca's control of them, for this was 
a daily happening. But another part of her hour of 
torture at the gombeen-man's house had yet to come. 
Of late Mrs. Williams had made of her a kind of confi- 
dante in the small concerns of her household. She was 
the sort of woman who must needs be always talking to 
some one of her affairs. Now she enlarged upon the 
immediate story of how Mrs. Brennan had been begging 
and craving of Tommy to do something for her son John, 
who had been sent home from the place he was in Eng- 
land. "The cheek of her, mind you, that Mrs. Bren- 
nan ! ' ' emphasized Mrs. Williams. 

If it had been any other schoolmistress or girl of any 


kind at all that Mrs. Williams had ever known, they 
would have acquiesced in this statement of denunciation 
and said: " That's a sure fact for you, ma'am!" or 
"Just so!" But this had never been Rebecca's way. 
She merely said: "John Brennan is a very nice young 

Although Mrs. Williams was surprised, she merely 
said: "Is that so? Sure I know very little about him 
only to see him pass the door. They say he's taken the 
fashion of tippling a bit, and it's to McDermott's he 
does go, d'ye mind, with Ulick Shannon, and not to this 
house. But, of course, it's my bold Ulick that's spend- 
ing. Easy for him, begad, and it not his own." 

Rebecca saw the dirty meanness that stirred in this 

"That's what they say and it is surely a great pity 
to see him wasting his time about the roads of the valley. 
I think it would be a grand piece of charity on the part 
of any one who would be the means of taking him away 
from this place. If only he could be afforded some little 
help. 'Tis surely not his fault that the college in Eng- 
land broke down, and although his mother is, I believe, 
contriving the best for his future, sure it is hard for her. 
. She is only a poor woman, and the people of the valley 
seem queerly set against her. I don 't know why. They 
seem to hate the very sight of her." 

"You may say that indeed, and it is the good reasons 
they have " 

Mrs. Williams suddenly checked herself, for there 
flashed across her mind a chapter of her own story. She 
had been one of the lucky ones. . . . Besides, by slow 
steps, Rebecca was coming to have some power over her. 


"Of course it would be no loss to Tommy if he did 
give this help. He'd be bound to get the interest of his 
money, even if he were to sell her out of house and home. 
He knows his business, and he 's not against it himself, I 
may tell you; for he sees a return in many a way. It 
was myself that was keeping him from it on account of 
the boy's mother. But, of course, if you think it would 
be a nice, good thing to do " 

"It would be a good thing, and a very good thing, 
and one of the best actions you could put for luck 
before your own sons. ' ' 

"Oh, indeed, there's no fear of them! Is it Michael 
Joseph or Paddy?" 

"Of course not, indeed, nor did I mean anything of 
the kind. I only said it to soften you, Mrs. Williams." 

"Well, I may tell you it's all right, Miss Kerr. Mrs. 
Brennan is out there in the shop, and she's craving from 
me man. ... It 11 be all right, Miss Kerr, and that 's a 
fact. ... I '11 make it all right, never you fear ! ' ' 

In this way was John Brennan again led back into the 
paths of the Church. Curious that it should have been 
given Rebecca to effect the change in his condition 
Rebecca, whose beauty, snatching at his spirit always, 
had drawn his mind into other ways of contemplation. 
In less than a week, through the powerful ecclesiastical 
influence of Tommy Williams, the gombeen-man, he was 
riding daily to the college at Ballinamult. By teaching 
outside the hours allotted for his own study he was earn- 
ing part of his fees, and, as a further example of his 
worth to the community, Tommy Williams was paying 
the other portion, although as a purely financial specula- 
tion. ... In a year it was expected he would win one 


of the Diocesan Scholarships and go up to Maynooth. 
Mrs. Brennan knew more joy than had ever before pos- 
sessed her. Her son was to be ordained in Ireland after 
all, and maybe given a curacy in his own diocese. Who 
knew but he might yet follow in the footsteps of Father 
O'Keeffe and become Parish Priest of Garradrimna 
while she was still alive here in this little house in the 
valley ! 


THE meetings of Ulick and Rebecca had become less 
and less frequent. Sometimes she would not see 
him for days at a stretch, and such periods would appear 
as desert spaces. She would be driven by them into the 
life of the valley, where no echo of comfort ever came 
to her. Even the little children created an irritation 
with their bright faces continually reminding her of all 
the prayers they had said for her intentions. ... It was 
curious that she never asked them to say a prayer for 
her intentions now. And their looks would seem to be 
beseeching her forever. And yet she could not she 
could not ask them now. . . . Each distinct phase of the 
day seemed to hold for her its own peculiar tortures. 
These seemed to have reached their climax and very 
moment of ecstasy on the days succeeding upon one an- 
other when Monica McKeon came in at the recreation 
hour to take her luncheon in company with Mrs. Wyse. 

Monica would be certain to say with the most unfailing 
regularity and, in fact, with exactly the same intonation 
upon all occasions : ' ' I wonder when that Ulick Shannon 
is going away?" To which Mrs. Wyse would reply in 
a tone which would seem to have comprehended all 
knowledge: "Ah, sure, he'll never go far!" Presently 
Monica would begin to let fall from her slyly her usual 
string of phrases: "Wouldn't you be inclined to say, 
now, that Ulick Shannon is good-looking?" Talking of 



some other one, she would describe him as being "Just 
like Ulick Shannon, don 't you know ! ' ' And if they hap- 
pened to be discussing the passage of some small event 
it would invariably circle around the breathless point of 
interest "And who do you think was there only Ulick 
Shannon?" Then from where she sat supping her tea 
out of a saucerless cup Mrs. Wyse would give out her 
full opinion of Ulick Shannon. 

"He's the quare sort, just like his father. I don't 
think I've ever seen a son to take after his father so 
closely. And he was what you might call a quare char- 
acter in his day. It was said that a girl as well as 
lost her good name if she was seen talking twice in suc- 
cession to Henry Shannon, he was that bad. Like 
father, like son is surely the case between Henry and 
Ulick Shannon!" 

This seemed at all times the strangest talk for Rebecca 
to be hearing. ... It often caused her to shiver even 
though spring was well on its way. And they would 
never let it out of their minds ; they would never let it 
rest. They were always talking at her about Ulick 
Shannon, for they seemed to know. 

But no one knew save herself. It was a grand secret. 
Not even Ulick knew. She hugged the dear possession 
of her knowledge to herself. There was the strangest 
excitement upon her to escape from school in the eve- 
nings so that she might enjoy her secret in loneliness. 

Even this joy had been dissipated by her certainty of 
meeting John Brennan somewhere upon the road in the 
near vicinity of the school. . . . Now, as she thought of 
it upon an evening a few days after she had spoken to 
Mrs. Williams in his favor, she fancied that his lonely 


admiration for her must have been growing in strength 
since his return. . . . There had always been a sense of 
sudden relief in his presence after the torture of the two 
women, a feeling of high emancipation like the rushing in 
of some clean wind. . . . Only a few words had ever 
passed between them on those occasions, but now they 
were to her throbbing brain of blessed and sweet mem- 
ory. And there had always been the same look upon his 
face, making her try to puzzle out in what possible way 
he could look upon her. Could it be in the way she had 
looked upon him, with a full kindliness working into 
the most marvelous ways of sympathy ? Yet she missed 
him ever so much, now that he was to be no longer seen 
upon the road. 

It was strange enough, too, as she thought of it, that 
although the reason of Mrs. Williams in taking a fancy 
to her was no more than the selfish one of showing her 
dislike for Master Donnellan, it should have borne good 
fruit after this fashion. Yet a certain loneliness, a cer- 
tain feeling of empty sadness was to be her reward be- 
cause she had done a good thing. ... No one at all now 
to take her mind away as she wandered from torture to 
torture in the afternoons. . . . On one of the first eve- 
nings of the changed condition of things Mrs. McGold- 
rick, noticing in her keen mind that Rebecca was a min- 
ute or so earlier than usual, said, after the manner of 
one proud of being able to say it : 

"Is it a fact, Miss Kerr, that John Brennan bees going 
as a kind of a charity teacher or something to the college 
at Ballinamult?" 

"Well, if it's a fact, it is a fact," said Rebecca in a 
tired, dull voice and without showing any interest what- 


soever. But even this attitude did not baulk the ser- 
geant 's wife, for she hurried on : 

"Ah, God help his innocent wit, but sure he'll never 
be a priest, he'll never be a priest! 'Tis a pity of his 
mother, but sure she could hardly expect it to be so, for 
she wasn't a good woman, they tell me, and she ought 
to know, you know, that she could hardly expect it to 
be so!" 

Rebecca saw at once that her landlady was in one of 
her fits of garrulousness, so she concluded in consequence 
that there would not be much pleasure in her dinner to- 
day. She passed it untasted and went upstairs wearily. 
There was a certain grim comfort in thinking that she 
had left Mrs. McGoldrick with her harangue unfinished 
and a great longing upon her to be talking. . . . She 
flung herself upon the bed in the still untidied room. 
She was weary with some great, immeasurable weariness 
this blessed evening. . . . Her corset hurt her, and she 
sat up again to take it off. She caught sight of herself 
reflected in the mirror opposite. . . . How worn she 
looked ! Her brows, with their even curves, did not take 
from the desolation that had fallen upon her forehead, 
where it was grown harder as beneath the blows of some 
tyrannic thought. And it seemed as if the same thought 
had plowed all the lines which were beginning to ap- 
pear there now. ... It must be that she had long since 
entered into a mood of mourning for the things she had 
lost in the valley. 

She fell to remembering the first evening she had 
come to it, and of how she had begun to play with her 
beauty on that very first evening. It had appeared then 
as the only toy in her possession in this place of dreary 


immensity. And now it seemed to have run through 
many and sudden vicissitudes. She had allowed Ulick 
Shannon to play with it too. . . . But his language had 
been so sweet when he had praised her in the silent 
woods. . . . And in the lonely cottage in Donegal, where 
he had gone to see her after Christmas, there had been 
abiding joy, while outside the night swept wild and dark 
upon the cold, gray sea. . . . Here there came sudden 
qualms as to whether she had helped to ruin him by 
taking him away from preparation for his final exam. 
But there was such an urge of dear remembrance upon 
her that her mind sprang quickly back again to all the 
thoughts they had had between them then. . . . Back 
into her mind too were thronging the exact words he had 
used upon that night they had spent together in the 

And by the side of all this, was it not queer that he 
came so seldom to see her now although he lived distant 
from her by only a few fields? Even when he came 
their partings were so abrupt, after a little period of 
strained conversation, when he always went with a slight 
excuse in his mouth to Garradrimna. Yet all the time 
she longed for his presence by her side with an even 
greater longing than that she had experienced in Pone- 
gal. ... It was also painfully notable how he gave 
shifty answers to her every question. And had she not 
a good right to be asking him questions now? . . . And 
surely he must guess by this time. 

She threw her head back upon the pillow once more, 
and once more she was weeping. She thought, through 
the mist of her tears, of how she had so bitterly wept 
upon the first evening of her coming to this room. But 


on that evening also she had prayed, and she could not 
pray now. Nor could she sleep. She remained there 
upon the bed, inert in every sense save for her empty 
stare up at the discolored ceiling. It was broken only 
by the queer smile she would take to herself ever and 
again. ... At last she began to count upon her fingers. 
She was simply counting the number of times she had 
seen Ulick since his return to his uncle's house. 

"Oh, dear, dear, and what have I done to him?" she 
muttered incessantly, biting her lips occasionally between 
her words as if in a very ecstasy of desire for the pain he 
was causing her. . . . There came moments, winged and 
clean like shining angels, to bring her comfort, when she 
wildly fancied it was the very loveliest thing to endure 
great pain for his sake. 

But the powers of her mind for any wild gladness were 
being gradually annihilated by dark thoughts coming 
down to defeat her thoughts of beauty. She turned from 
contemplation of the ceiling and began to glance around 
the room in search of some distraction. In one corner 
she saw an old novelette thrown aside in its gaudy covers. 
The reading of rubbish was Mrs. McGoldrick's recreation 
when she was not sewing or nursing the baby. 

She had called the girls after heroines of passionate 
love-stories, just as her husband, the sergeant, had seen 
that the boys were called after famous men in the world 
of the police. Thus the girls bore names like Euphemia 
McGoldrick and Clementina McGoldrick, while the boys 
bore names like John Ross McGoldrick and Neville 
Chamberlain McGoldrick. The girls, although they were 
ugly and ill-mannered, had already been invested with 
the golden lure of Romance, and the boys were already 


policemen although they were still far distant from the 
age when they could put on a belt or a baton. 

Rebecca began to snatch at paragraphs here and there 
through the story, which was entitled The Desecration of 
the Hearth. There was one passage which seemed to 
hold an unaccountable fascination as her eyes lingered 
over it: 

"Then suddenly, and without a minute's warning, 
Lord Archibald Molyneux dashed the poor, ruined 
girl from him, and soon she was struggling for life 
in the swirling stream. 

' ' Ah-a-ha!' he said once more, hissing out his 
every word between his thin, cruel lips. 'That will 
may be put an end to your scandalous allegations 
against a scion of the noble house of Molyneux.' 

'"Mercy! Pity! Oh, God! The Child!' she 
wailed piteously as she felt herself being caught in 
the maelstrom of the current. 

"But Lord Archibald Molyneux merely twirled 
his dark, handsome mustache with his white hands, 
after the fashion that was peculiar to him, and 
waited until his unfortunate victim had disappeared 
completely beneath the surface of the water." 

Rebecca's eyes had closed over the passage, and she 
was dozing now, but only fitfully. ... To occupy small 
instants would come the most terrifying dreams in long 
waves of horror which would seem to take great spaces 
of time for their final passage from her mind. Then 
there would flow in a brief space of respite, but only as 
a prelude to the dread recurrence of her dreams again. 


And all jumbled together, bits of wild reality which were 
and were not parts of her experience would cause her to 
start up ever and anon. 

There fell a knock upon the door, and a little girl came 
in with some tea-things on a tray. She called: "Miss 
Kerr, your tea!" and when Rebecca woke up with a 
terrible start it appeared as if she had not slumbered 
at all. 

"Oh, is that yourself, Euphemia? I declare to good- 
ness the dusk is falling outside. I must have been sleep- 

"Yes, miss!" 

"You are late in coming this evening?" 

"Well, wait till I tell you, miss. I went into the vil- 
lage for some things for my mother, and what d 'ye think 
but when I was coming home I thought I saw a strange 
man just outside the ditch opposite the door, and I was 
afraid for to pass, so I was." 

"A strange man! Is that a fact?" 

"Well, sure then I thought, miss, it might be Ulick 
Shannon, but I may tell you I got the surprise of my life 
when I found it was only John Brennan, and he stand- 
ing there alone by himself looking up at your window. ' ' 

Long before she had got through it, with many lisps 
and lapses, Rebecca was wearied by the triteness of the 
little one's statement, so well copied was it from the 
model of her mother's gossipy communication of the 
simplest fact. 

But what could John Brennan be doing there so near 
her again? This was the thought that held Rebecca 
as she went on with an attempt to take her tea. 


JOHN BRENNAN came down the valley. The trees 
by the roadside were being shaken heavily by soft 
winds. Yet, for all the kindness of May that lingered 
about it, there seemed to be some shadow hanging over 
the evening. No look of peace or pity had struggled into 
the squinting windows. . . . Would the valley ever again 
put on the smile it had worn last summer? That time 
it had been so dearly magnified. At leaving it there had 
been such a crush of feeling in his breast. 

He seemed to see it more clearly now. There was 
something that hurt him in the thought of how he was 
preparing for a genteel kind of life while his father re- 
mained a common sponger around the seven publichouses 
of Garradrimna, asking people to stand him drinks for 
the love of God like Anthony Shaughness. He could not 
forget that the valley had wrought this destruction upon 
Ned Brennan, and that Ned Brennan was his father. 

This thought arose out of a definite cause. At the col- 
lege in Ballinamult he had made the acquaintance of 
Father George Considine, who had already begun to 
exercise an influence over him. This priest was a sim- 
ple, holy man, who had devoted his life usefully, remain- 
ing far away from the ways of pride. Although gom- 
been-men like Tommy Williams had some influence with 
those who controlled the college, they had no influence 
over him. He was in curious contrast to the system 



which tied him to this place. It was impossible to think 
that his ordination had represented a triumph to any 
one at all, yet he had been far ahead of his contempo- 
raries and while yet a young man had been made princi- 
pal of this college in Ballinamult His name had gone 
out into the world. The satisfaction that had been de- 
nied to Master Donnellan was his. He had had a hand 
in the education of men whose names were now notable 
in many a walk of life. And yet, to see him moving 
about the grounds of the college in his faded coat with 
the frayed sleeves and shiny collar, no man would think 
that his name, the name of ''poor Father Considine," 
was spoken with respect in distant places. 

But Mrs. Brennan did not approve of him. On the 
evening of John's first day in Ballinamult, after she had 
made every other possible inquiry she said: 

"And did you meet Father Considine?" 

* * I did indeed, mother ; a nice man ! ' ' 

"Ah, a quare ould oddity! Wouldn't you think now 
that he'd have a little pride in himself and dress a bit 
better, and he such a very learned man?" 

"Maybe that's just the reason why he's not proud. 
The saints were not proud, mother; then why should 
he be?" 

She always gave a deaf ear to any word of this kind 
from John, for her ideal was Father 'Keeffe, with his 
patent leather top-boots, silver-mounted whip and silk 
hat, riding to hounds with the Cromwellian descendants 
of the district. . . . Here was where Father Considine 
stood out in sharp contrast, for he was in spiritual de- 
scent from those priests who had died with the people in 
the Penal Days. It was men like him who had carried 


down the grandeur of Faith and Idealism from genera- 
tion to generation. One felt that life was a small thing 
to him beyond the chance it gave to make it beautiful. 
He had written a little book of poems in honor of Mary, 
the Mother of God, and to feel that it had brought some 
comfort to many a troubled one and to know that he had 
been the means of shaping young men's lives towards 
useful ends was all that this world meant to him. 

John Brennan knew very well that if he became a 
priest it was in the steps of Father Considine he would 
follow rather than in those of Father O'Keeffe. This 
he felt must mean the frustration of half his mother's 
grand desire, but, inevitable, it must be so, for it was 
the way his meditative mind would lead him. Thus was 
he troubled again. 

Father Considine had spoken to him of Father 

"A touch of the farmer about that man don't you 
think ? But maybe a worthy man for all that ! ' ' 

Then he had looked long into the young man's eyes 
and said: 

"Be humble, my son, be humble, so that great things 
may be done unto you!" 

John had pondered these words as he cycled home that 
evening past the rich fields. He began to think how his 
friend Ulick would have put all his thoughts so clearly. 
How he would have spoken of the rank green grass now 
rising high over County Meath as a growth that had 
sprung from the graves of men's rotted souls; of all 
the hate and pride that had come out of their hunger for 
the luscious land; of how Faith and Love and Beauty 
had gone forever from this golden vale to the wild places 


of his country, where there was a letting-in of wind and 
sun and sea. ... It was easy to connect Father 
O'Keeffe's pride with the land. Remembrance of the 
man's appearance was sufficient. It was not so easy in 
the case of his mother. But, of course, John had no 
knowledge of how she had set her heart upon Henry 
Shannon's lovely farm in the days gone by. 

Hitherto his thoughts of his future condition had been 
bound up with consideration of his mother, but now 
there had come this realization of his father. It was not 
without its sadness to think that his father had been a 
stranger to him always and that he should now behold 
him stumbling down to old age amid the degradation 
of Garradrimna. He felt curiously desirous of doing 
something for him. But the heavy constraint between 
them still existed as always. He was unequal to the 
task of plucking up courage to speak to him. This eve- 
ning, too, as he tried, after his accustomed fashion, in a 
vacant moment to catch a glimpse of his own future, he 
acutely felt the impossibility of seeing himself as a 
monument of pride. . . . Always there would arise be- 
fore his mind a broken column in the middle of the 

And he was lonely. He had not seen Ulick Shannon 
or Rebecca since he had begun to cycle daily to Ballina- 
mult. Often, in some of the vacant stretches of thought 
which came to him as he hurried along, he pictured the 
two of them meeting during some of those long, sweet 
evenings and being kind to one another. Despite sud- 
den flashes of a different regard that would come sweep- 
ing his thoughts of all kinds, he loved these two and 


was glad that they were fond of one another. It now 
seemed surprising that he had ever thought so deeply 
of Rebecca Kerr, and wished to meet her upon the road 
and look longingly into her eyes. All this while going 
on to be a priest seemed far from him now that he had 
begun to be influenced by Father Considine. 

He had to pass the house of Sergeant McGoldriek by 
the way he was going, and it seemed an action alto- 
gether outside him that he had gone into an adjacent 
field and gazed for quite a long time up at her window. 
. . . He was all confusion when he noticed the child 
of the McGoldricks observing him. . . . He drifted 
away, his cheeks hot and a little sense of shame dimming 
his eyes. . . . He took to the road again and at once 
saw Ulick Shannon coming towards him. The old, in- 
sinuating smile which had so often been used upon his 
weak points, was spread over the face of his friend. 

"And at last you have succeeded in coming to see her 
thus far?" 

The words seemed to fall out of Ulick 's oblique smile. 

"She?" he said in surprise. 

"Oh, I thought it was that you had intentions of be- 
coming my rival!" 

John laughed now, for this was the old Ulick come 
back again. He went on laughing as if at a good joke, 
and the two students went together down the road. 

"Don't let me delay you!" John said abruptly. 

"Oh, you're not preventing me in any way at all." 

"But Rebecca?" 

"Even the austerities of Ballinamult have not made 
you forget Rebecca?" 


"Hardly I shouldn't like to think that I had been 
the cause of keeping you from her even for a short 

There came between them now one of those long spells 
of silence which seemed essential parts of their friend- 

"You're in a queer mood this evening ?" John said 
at last. 

"I suppose I am, and that there's no use in trying to 
hide it. ... D'ye know what it is, Brennan? We two 
seem to have changed a great deal since last summer. 
7 simply can't look at things in the same light-hearted 
way. I suppose I went too far, and that I must be pay- 
ing for it now. But there are just a few things I have 
done for which I am sorry I'm sorry about this affair 
with Rebecca Kerr." 

John was listening with quiet attention to the remarks 
which Ulick was letting fall from him disjointedly. 

"I'm sorry, sorry, sorry that I should ever have come 
here to meet her, for somehow it has brought me to this 
state of mind and not to any happiness at all. I'm 
doubtful, too, if it has brought any happiness to her. ' ' 

"That's strange," said John, "and I thought you two 
were very happy in your friendship." 

"Happiness!" jerked out the other in a full, strong 
sneer. "That's a funny word now, and a funny thing. 
Do you think that we deserve happiness any more than 
those we see working around us in the valley? Not at 
all! Rather less do we deserve. Just think of them 
giving their blood and sweat so crudely in mortal com- 
bat with the fields ! And what does it avail them in the 
end? What do they get out of it but the satisfaction 


of a few unkind thoughts and a few low lies? In the 
mean living of their own lives they represent futile 
expeditions in quest of joy. Yet what brings the great- 
est joy it is possible for them to experience? Why, 
the fact that another 's hope of happiness has been finally 
desolated. If any great disaster should suddenly come 
upon one or other of the three of us, upon you or me 
or Rebecca Kerr, they would see more glory in the ful- 
filment of their spite than in the harvest promise of their 
fields. And yet I here assert that these deserve to be 
happy. They labor in the hard way it was ordained that 
man should labor at Adam's fall, and they attend to 
their religion. They pray for happiness, and this is the 
happiness that comes to them. Some must be defeated 
and driven down from the hills of their dreams so that 
the other ones, the deserving and the pious, may be given 
material for their reward of joy. That, Brennan, is the 
only happiness that ever descends upon the people of 
the valley. It may be said that they get their reward 
in this life." 

Ulick was in one of those moods of eloquence which 
always came to him after a visit to Garradrimna, and 
when a very torrent of words might be expected to pour 
forth from him. John Brennan merely lifted his eye- 
brows in mild surprise and said nothing as the other 
went on: 

" Happiness indeed. What have I ever done to de- 
serve happiness ? I have not worked like a horse, I have 
not prayed?" 

"I was not thinking of any broad generalizations of 
happiness. I was only thinking of happiness in your 
relation to Rebecca Kerr." 


Ulick now gave a sudden turn to the conversation: 

" Where were you wandering to the night ?" he in- 
quired of John Brerman. 

"Oh, nowhere in particular just down the road." 

"Well, it seems strange that you should have come 
this way, past the house of Sergeant McGoldrick." 

It appeared as if Ulick had glimpsed the tender spot 
upon which John Brennan's thoughts were working and 
struck it with the sharp point of his words. John did 
not reply, but it could be seen that his cheeks were 
blushing even in the gloom that had come towards them 
down the road. 

"I hope you will be very kind to her, John, when I 
am gone from here. She's very nice, and this is the 
drear, lonely place for her to be. I expect to be going 
away pretty soon." 

It seemed extraordinary that this thing should be 
happening now. . . . He began to remember how he had 
longed for Rebecca last summer, and how his poor yearn- 
ing had been reduced to nothing by the favor with which 
she looked upon his friend. And later how he had 
turned away out of the full goodness of his own heart 
and returned again through power of a fateful ac- 
cident to his early purpose. And now how the good 
influence of Father Considine had just come into his life 
to lead him finally into the way for which he had been 
intended by his mother from the beginning. 

He did not yet fully realize that this quiet and casual 
meeting which had been effected because Ulick Shannon 
had accidentally come around this way from Garra- 
drimna represented the little moment which stood for 
the turning-point of his life. But it had certainly 


moved into being along definite lines of dramatic signif- 

Presently Ulick mounted a stile which gave upon a 
path leading up through the fields of his uncle Myles 
and to the lonely house among the trees. Then it was 
true that he was not seeing Rebecca to-night. ... A 
great gladness seemed to have rushed in upon John 
Brennan because he had become aware of this thing. 
And further, Ulick Shannon was going away from the 
valley and Rebecca remaining here to be lonely. But 
he, who had once so dearly longed for her company, 
would be coming and going from the valley daily, and 
summer was upon them again. . . . Ulick must have 
bade him a " Good-night !" that he had not heard, for 
already he could see him disappearing into the sea of 
white midst which would seem to have rolled into the 
valley from the eternity of the silent places. ... He 
was left here now upon this lonely, quiet shore while 
his mind had turned into a tumbling sea. 

When at last he roused himself and went into the 
kitchen he saw that his mother had already settled her- 
self to the task of reading a religious paper to his father. 
. . . The elder man was sitting there so woebegone by 
the few wet sods that were the fire. He was not very 
drunk this evening, and the usual wild glint in his eyes 
was replaced by the look of one who is having thoughts 
of final dissolution. . . . John experienced a little shud- 
der with the thought that he did not possess any desire 
to speak to his father now. 

But his mother had broken in with a question : 

"Was that Ulick Shannon was with you outside just 


"Yes, mother, it was/' 
"He went home very early, didn't he?" 
"I suppose it is rather early for him to go home." 
"I think 'tis very seldom he bees with Rebecca Kerr 
now, whatever 's the reason, what ever 's the reason.'' 

It was her repetition and emphasis of the final words 
which brought about the outburst. 

Ned Brennan suddenly flamed up and snarled out: 
"Look ye here, Nan Byrne, that's no kind of talk to 
be giving out to your grand, fine, educated young fellow 
of a son, and he be going on to be a priest. That's the 
quare, suggestive kind of talk. But sure 'tis very like 
you, Nan Byrne. 'Tis very like you!" 

Mrs. Brennan had just been on the point of beginning 
to read the religious paper, and, with the thought of all 
her reading surging in upon her in one crushing mo- 
ment, she felt the cutting rebuff most keenly and showed 
her confusion. She made no reply as John went up to 
the room where his books were. . . . Long after, as he 
tried to recall forgotten, peaceful thoughts, he could 
hear his father speaking out of the heat of anger in the 
kitchen below. 


AFTER she had failed to take her tea Rebecca walked 
the valley road many times, passing and repassing 
their usual meeting place. But no sign of Ulick did she 
find. She peered longingly into the sea of white fog, 
but he did not come. . . . What in the world was hap- 
pening to him at all? Never before had he missed this 
night of the week. . . . She did not care to return so 
early, for she feared that Mrs. McGoldrick might come 
with that awful look of scrutiny she detested. Just to 
pass the time she wandered down The Road of the Dead 
towards the lake. To-night it seemed so lonely set there 
amid the sea of white. 

It was strange to think that this place could ever have 
had a fair look about it or given pleasure to any person 
at all. Yet it was here that John Brennan had loved to 
walk and dream. She wondered how it was with him 
now. She began to think of the liking he had shown 
for her. Maybe he fancied she did not know why he 
happened to meet her so often upon the road. But well 
did she know well. And to think that he had come to 
look up at her window this evening. 

Yet even now she was fearful of acknowledging these 
things to herself. It appeared as a double sacrilege. 
It was an attack upon her love for Ulick and it ques- 
tioned the noble intention of Mrs. Brennan in devoting 
her son to God. But all chance that it might ever come 



to anything was now over. The ending had been ef- 
fected by herself in the parlor of Tommy Williams, the 
gombeen-man, and Mrs. Brennan might never be able 
to guess the hand she had had in it. It was a thing 
upon which she might well pride herself if there grew 
in her the roots of pride. But she was not of that sort. 
And now she was in no frame of delight at all for the 
thought of him had united her unto the thought of Ulick, 
and Ulick had not come to her this evening. . . . She 
felt herself growing cold in the enveloping mist. The 
fir trees were like tall ghosts in the surrounding gloom. 
. . . But immediately the lake had lost its aspect of 
terror when she remembered what she had done might 
have averted the possibility of having John Brennan 
ever again to wander lonely. ... And yes, in spite of 
any comforting thought, the place would continue to 
fill her with a nameless dread. She was shivering and 

Suddenly a big pike made a splash among the reeds 
and Rebecca gave a loud, wild cry. It rang all down 
the lonely aisle of the fir-trees and united its soimd with 
that of a lone bird crying on the other side of the lake. 
Then it died upon the banks of mist up against the 
silent hills. 

For a few moments its source seemed to flutter and 
bubble within her breast, and then it ended in a long, 
sobbing question to herself Why had she cried out at 
all? She might have known it was only a fish or some 
such harmless thing. And any one within reasonable 
distance could have heard the cry and thought it was 
the signal of some terrible thing that had happened here 
by the lakeside. It was not so far distant from two 


roads, and who knew but some one had heard? Yet 
she could hardly fancy herself behaving in this way 
if she had not possessed an idea that it was a lonely 
place and seldom that any one went by in the night- 

But she hurried away from the feeling of terror she 
had caused to fill the place and back towards the house 
of Sergeant McGoldrick. As quickly as possible she 
got to bed. Here seemed a little comfort. She re- 
membered how this had been her place of refuge as a 
child, how she felt safe from all ghosts and goblins once 
her head was hidden beneath the clothes. And the in- 
stinct had survived into womanhood. 

Again a series of those fitful, half sleeping and wak- 
ing conditions began to pass over her. Side by side 
with the most dreadful feelings of impending doom came 
thronging memories of glad phases of life through which 
she had passed. . . . And to think that this life of hers 
was now narrowing towards this end. Were the valley 
and its people to behold her final disaster ? Was it to be 
that way with her? 

She had intended to tell Ulick if he had come to her 
this evening, but he had not come, and what was she 
to do now? In the slough of her torment she could 
not think of the right thing. . . . Maybe if she wrote 
an angry letter upbraiding him. . . . But how could 
she write an angry letter to him? Yet she must let 
him know, and immediately when the dawn had broken 
into the room she would write. For there was no use 
in thinking of sleeping. She could not sleep. Yes, 
when the dawn had broken into the room she would 
write surely. But not an angry letter. . . . Very 


slowly she began to notice the corners of the room 
appearing in the new light before her wide open eyes. 
And to feel that this was the place she had so fiercely 
hated from the first moment of setting foot in it, and 
that it was now about to see her write the acknowledg- 
ment of her shame. . . . The dawn was a great while in 
breaking. ... If he did not well then, what could her 
future life hope to be? She began to grow strangely 
dizzy as she fell to thinking of it. Dizzy and fearful 
as she drew near in mind to that very great abyss. 

The leaping-up of the day did not fill her with any of 
its gradual delight. . . . She rose with a weariness numb- 
ing her limbs. The putting-on of her few clothes was an 
immense task. . . . She went to the table upon which she 
had written all those letters to her school-companions 
which described that " there was nothing like a girl- 
friend." She pulled towards her, with a small, trem- 
bling hand, the box of Ancient Irish Vellum, upon which 
her special letters were always written. Her mind had 
focussed itself to such small compass that this letter 
seemed more important than any that had ever before 
been written in this world. 

But for a long time she could not begin. She did not 
know by what term of endearment to address him now. 
. . . They had been so particularly intimate. . . . And 
then it was so hard to describe her condition to him in 
poor words of writing with pen and ink upon paper. If 
only he had come to her last night it might have been a 
task of far less difficulty. A few sobs, a gathering of 
her little troubled body unto him, and a beseeching 
look up into his face. . . . But it was so hard to put 
any single feeling into any separate sentence. 


After hours, during which the sun had been mounting 
high and bright, she had the letter finished at last and 
was reading it over. Some sentences like the following 
leaped out before her eyes here within this sickly-looking 
room Whatever was the matter with him that he could 
not come to her? Surely he was not so blind, and he 
with his medical knowledge. He must know what was 
the matter with her, and that this was scarcely the time 
to be leaving her alone. His uncle, Myles Shannon, 
was a very rich man, and did he not remember how 
often he had told her how his uncle looked with favor 
upon her? Here she included the very words in which 
Ulick had many a time described his uncle's opinion 
of her "I like that little schoolmistress, Rebecca Kerr!" 
"It was all so grand, Ulick, our love and meetings; 
but here comes the paying of the penalty, and surely you 
will not leave poor little me to pay it in full. You have 
enjoyed me, have you not, Ulick?" She was more 
immediately personal now, and this was exactly how 
the sentences continued: "You know very well what 
this will mean to me. I'll have to go away from here, 
and where, I ask you, can I go ? Not back to my father 's 
house surely, nor to my aunt's little cottage in Donegal. 
... I have no money. The poor salary I earn here 
is barely able to buy me a little food and clothing and 
keep a roof over my head. Did I not often tell you 
that when you were away from me there were times 
when I could hardly afford the price of stamps? If 
it should happen that this thing become public while 
I am yet here I could never get another day's teaching, 
for Father O'Keeffe would warn every manager in 
Ireland against engaging me. But surely, darling, you 


will not allow things to go so far. . . . You will please 
come down to see me at 5.30 this evening. You will 
find me at the old place upon The Road of the Dead. 
Don't you remember that it was there we had our first 
talk, Ulick?" 

Great as the torture of writing it had been, the torture 
of reading it was till greater. Some of the lines seemed 
to lash out and strike her and to fill her eyes with tears, 
and there were some that seemed so hard upon him that 
she struck them out, not wishing, as ever, to hurt her 
dearest Ulick at all. At one moment she felt a curious 
desire to tear it into pieces and let her fate come to her 
as it had been ordained from the beginning. . . . But 
there was little Euphemia McGoldrick knocking at the 
door to be allowed to enter with the breakfast. Who 
would ever imagine that it was so late? 

She had written a great deal. Why it filled pages and 
pages. She hurriedly thrust it into a large envelope that 
she had bought for the purpose of sending a card of 
greeting to John Brennan at Christmas, thinking better 
of it only at the last moment. It was useful now, for 
the many sheets were bulky. 

"The breakfast, miss!" announced Euphemia as she 
left the room. 

This was the third meal in twenty-four hours that 
Eebecca could make no attempt to take, but, to avert 
suspicion, she wrapped up the sliced and buttered bread 
in a few leaves from the novelette from which she had 
read those desperate passages on the previous evening. 
The tea she threw out into the garden. It fell in a shin- 
ing shower down over the bright green vegetables. . . . 
She put on her dust-coat and, stuffing the letter to Ulick 


into one pocket and her uneaten breakfast by way of 
a luncheon she would not eat into the other, hurried 
out of doors and up the road, for this morning she had 
important business in the village before going on to the 

Mrs. McGoldrick was set near the foot of the stairs 
holding Euphemia and Clementina by the hand, all 
three in action there to behold the exit of Rebecca. 
This was a morning custom and something in the nature 
of a rite. It was the last clout of torture always inflicted 
by Mrs. McGoldrick. 

Rebecca went on into Garradrimna. The village street 
was deserted save by Thomas James, who held solitary 
occupation. He was posting the bills for a circus at the 
market square. She was excited as she went over to 
speak to him and did not notice the eyes of the bespec- 
tacled postmistress that were trained upon her from the 
office window with the relentlessness of howitzers. She 
asked Thomas James would he take a letter from her 
to Mr. Ulick Shannon. 

"Oh yes, miss; Lord, yes!" 

She slipped the letter into his hand when she thought 
that no one was looking. She had adopted this mode of 
caution in preference to sending it through the Post 
Office. She was evidently anxious that it should be 
delivered quickly and unread by any other person. 

"0 Lord, yes, miss; just as soon as I have an auction 
bill posted after this. You know, miss, that Mickeen 
Connellan, the auctioneer, is one of my best patrons. 
He doesn't pay as well as the circus people, but he 
pays oftener." 

That was in the nature of a very broad hint, but 


Rebecca had anticipated it and had the shilling already 
prepared and ready to slip into his other hand. 

" Thanks, miss!" 

With remarkable alacrity Thomas James had "downed 
tools" and disappeared into Brannagan 's. Rebecca 
could hear the swish of his pint as she went by the door 
after having remained a few moments looking at the 
lurid circus-bills. Inside, Mrs. Brannagan, the pub- 
lican and victualler's wife, took notice that he possessed 
the air of a man bent upon business. 

"Ah, it's how I'm going to do a little message for the 
assistant schoolmistress," he said, taking his matutinal 
pinch of salt, for this was his first pint and one could 
never tell what might happen. 

"Is that so?" 

"Aye, indeed; a letter to young Shannon." 

"Well now? And why for wouldn't it do to send it 
by the post?" 

"Ah, mebbe that way wouldn't be grand enough for 
her. Mebbe it is what it would be too chape a penny, 
you know, for the stamp, and this costs a shilling for 
the porter. Give us another volume of this, Mrs. Bran- 
nagan, if you please ? Ha-ha-ha ! " He laughed loudly, 
but without any mirth, at his own joke and the peculiar 
blend of subtlety by which he had marked it. 

Mrs. Brannagan was all anxiety and excitement about 
the letter. 

"Well now, just imagine!" she said to herself about 
forty times as she filled the second pint for Thomas 
James. Then she rose up from her bent posture at the 
half barrel and, placing the drink before him on the 
bar, said: 


"I wonder what would be in that letter. Let ine 

"Oh, 'tis only a letter in a big envelope. Aren't you 
the inquisitive woman now, Mrs. Branuagan?" 

"What 11 you have, Thomas?" 

"Ah, another pint, Mrs. Brannagan, thanks!" 

His second drink had been despatched with his own 
celebrated speed. 

Mrs. Brannagan was a notably hard woman, and he 
could not let the opportunity of having her stand him a 
drink go by. She was the hardest woman in Garra- 
drimna. Her childlessness had made her so. She was 
beginning to grow stale and withered, and anything in 
the nature of love and marriage, with their possible 
results, was to her a constant source of affliction and 

Her heart was now bounding within her breast in 

"Drink that quick, Thomas, and have another before 
the boss comes down." But there was no need to com- 
mand him. It had already disappeared. . . . The 
fourth pint had found its way to his lips. He was be- 
ginning to grow mellow now and to lose his cross-sickness 
of the morning. 

"Will ye let me see the letter?" 

"Certainly, Mrs. Brannagan. Lord, yes!" 

He handed it across the counter. 

1 ' Such a quare letter ? Oh, I hear the boss coming in 
across the yard." . . . She had taken the empty glass 
from before Thomas James, and again was it filled. . . . 
Her husband stood before her. And this was the mo- 
ment she had worked up to so well. 


"I'll hand it back to you when he goes out," she whis- 

"All right, ma'am!" 

Thomas James and Mr. Brannagan fell into a chat 
while she went towards the kitchen. She took the letter 
from her flat bosom, where she had hastily thrust it and 
looked at it from every possible angle. It seemed to 
possess a compelling attraction. But she could not open 
it here. She would run across to her friend the post- 
mistress, who had every appliance for an operation of 
the kind. Besides she was the person who had first 
right to open it. ... Soon the bespectacled maid and the 
barren woman were deep in examination of Rebecca 
Kerr's letter to Ulick Shannon. Into their minds was 
beginning to leap a terrible joy as they read the lines 
it had cost Rebecca immense torture to write. 

"This is great, this is great!" said the ancient post- 
mistress, clicking her tongue continually in satisfaction. 
1 * The cheek of her, mind you, not to send it by the public 
post like another. But I knew well there was something 
quare when I saw her calloguing with Thomas James at 
the market square. ' ' 

"Wasn't she the sly, hateful, little thing. Why you'd 
never have thought it of her?" 

"A grand person indeed to have in charge of little, 
innocent girls!" 

"Indeed I shouldn't like to have a child if I thought it 
was to a purty thing like that she'd be sent to school!" 

"Nor me," said the old lady, from whom the promise 
of motherhood had departed for many a long year. 

They shook in righteous anger and strong detestation 
of the sin of Rebecca Kerr, and together they held 


council as to what might be the best thing to do ? They 
closed the letter, and Mrs. Brannagan again stuck it into 
her bosom. . . . What should they do? The children 
must be saved from contamination anyhow. . . . An 
approach to solution of the difficulty immediately pre- 
sented itself, for there was Mrs. Wyse herself just pass- 
ing down the street with her ass-load of children. Mrs. 
Brannagan rushed out of the office and called: 

"Mrs. Wyse, I want to see you in private for just a 
minute ! ' ' 

The schoolmistress bent over the back of the trap, and 
they whispered for several minutes. At last, out of her 
shocked condition, Mrs. Wyse was driven to exclaim: 

"Well now, isn't that the limit V 

It seemed an affront to her authority that another 
should have first discovered it, so she was anxious to 
immediately recover her lost position of superiority. 

' * Sure I was having my suspicions of her since ever she 
come back from the Christmas holidays, and even Monica 
McKeon too, although she 's a single girl and not supposed 
to know. It's a terrible case, Mrs. Brannagan." 

"Terrible, Mrs. Wyse. One of the terriblest ever hap- 
pened in the valley. . . . And before the children and 

"God bless and save us! But we must only leave it 
in Father O'Keeffe's hands. He'll know what is best to 
do, never fear. I'll send for him as soon as I get to 
the school." 

There was a note of mournful resignation in her tones 
as she moved away in the ass-trap with her children, 
like an old hen in the midst of her brood. . . . There 
was a peculiar smirk of satisfaction about the lips of 


Mrs. Brannagan as she returned to the shop, bent upon 
sending the letter on its way once more. 

"Much good it'll do her now, the dirty little fool!" 
she said in the happiness of some dumb feeling of ven- 
geance against one who was merely a woman like her- 
self. But she was a woman who had never had a child. 

Thomas James was considerably drunk. He had 
spent the remainder of the shilling upon porter, and 
Mr. Brannagan had stood him another pint. 

"Be sure and deliver it safely now, for maybe it's 
important!" said Mrs. Brannagan, as she returned the 

"It's a great letter anyhow. It's after getting me 
nine pints. That's long over half -a-crown 's worth of 
drink," he said, laughing foolishly as he wandered out 
to do his errand. 

It was a hard journey across the rising meadows to the 
house of Myles Shannon, where dwelt his nephew Ulick. 
Thomas James fell many times and wallowed in the tall, 
green grass, and he fell as he went leaping high hedges, 
and cut his hands and tore his red face with briars until 
it was streaked with blood. He was, therefore, an alto- 
gether deplorable figure when he at last presented him- 
self at the house of Myles Shannon. Mr. Shannon came 
to the door to meet him, and in his fuddled condition he 
laughed to himself as he fished the letter out of his 
pocket. It was covered red with blood where he had 
felt it with his torn hand from time to time to see 
whether or not he still retained possession of it. 

"From Mr. Brannagan, I suppose," said Mr. Shannon, 
thinking it had been written hurriedly by the victualler 
jxist fresh from the slaughterhouse and that it was a 


request for prime beef or mutton from the rich fields 
of Scarden. He opened it, for his nephew's name on 
the envelope could not be seen through the blood-stains. 
He did not notice that it began "My dearest Ulick" 
until he read down to the sentences that gave him pause. 
. . . Thomas James was coughing insinuatingly beside 
him, so he took half-a-crown from his pocket and handed 
it to the bedraggled messenger. It was a tremendous 
reward, and the man of porter did not fully perceive 
it until he had slipped out into the sunlight. 

"Be the Holy Farmer!" he stuttered, "another half- 
crown's worth of drink, and I after drinking long 
more than that already. That was the best letter I ever 
got to carry in me life. A few more like it and I'd 
either get me death of drink or be a millionaire like 
John D. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie!'* 

Inside the parlor Myles Shannon was reading Re- 
becca Kerr's letter with blanched face. . . . Here was 
a terrible thing ; here had come to him this great trouble 
for the second time. Something the like of this had hap- 
pened twenty-five or six years ago, when his brother had 
been in the same case with Nan Byrne. Curious how it 
should be repeating itself now! He pondered it for a 
few moments in its hereditary aspect. But there was 
more in it than that. There was the trace of his own 
hand determining it. He had encouraged his nephew 
with this girl. He had directed him into many reckless 
ways just that he might bring sorrow to the heart of 
Nan Byrne in the destruction of her son. It was a 
wicked thing for him to have done. His own nephew 
just to satisfy his desire for revenge. And at the bottom 
of things he loved his nephew even as he had loved 


his brother Henry. But he would try to save him the 
results, the pains and penalties of his infatuation, even 
as he had tried to save his brother Henry the results of 
his. But the girl arid her fate. . . . He would not be 
able to forget that until his dying day. . . . For it was 
he who had done this thing entirely, done it in cold 
blood too because he had heard that John Brennan had 
soft eyes for Rebecca Kerr and that, to encourge his 
nephew and produce a certain rivalry, might be the 
very best means of ruining the fair promise of Nan 
Byrne's son. 

Only last night he had heard from Ulick that John 
Brennan had entered the college at Ballinamult and that 
his prospects never looked so good as at present. ... To 
think of that now was to see ho"w just it was that his 
scheme should have so resulted, for it had been con- 
structed upon a very terrible plan. He had done it to 
avenge his defeated love for one girl, and lo! it had 
brought another to her ruin. 

"Your uncle is a wealthy man." This sentence from 
the letter burned before him, and he thought for a mo- 
ment that here appeared the full solution of the diffi- 
culty. But no. Of what use was that when the dread 
thing was about to happen to her? . . . But for all that 
he would send her money to-day or to-morrow, in some 
quiet way, and tell her the truth and beseech her to go 
away before the final disgrace of discovery fell upon her. 
His nephew must not know. He was too young to marry 
now, least of all, a compulsory marriage after this fash- 
ion to a schoolmistress. It was an ascent in the social 
standing of the girl surely, for his brother Henry had 


disgraced himself with a mere dressmaker. But any 
connection beyond the regrettable and painful mistake 
of the whole thing was out of the question because, for 
long years, the Shannons had been almost gentlemen in 
the valley. 

Ulick came into the room now. 

"Anything strange, uncle?" 

' ' Oh, nothing at all, only a letter from Mr. Brannagan 
about about the sheep. I suppose you're not going any- 
where to-day. Please don't, for I want you to give me a 
hand with the lambs after the shearing. And to-night 
I'll want you to help me with some letters and accounts 
that I've let slip for ever so long. I want you particu- 

"All right, uncle!"' 

How tractable and obliging his nephew had be- 
come. . . . ! Last summer he would not do a thing like 
this for any amount of coaxing. He would have business 
in the valley at all times. But there was a far Power 
that adjusted matters beyond the plans of men. Ulick 
had drifted out of the room and Mr. Shannon again 
took the letter from his pocket. The sight of the blood 
upon it still further helped the color of his thoughts 
towards terror. . . . He crossed hurriedly to the bureau 
and slipped it beneath the elastic band which held his 
letters from Helena Cooper, and Mrs. Brennan's letter 
to her, and Mrs. Brennan's letter to his dead brother 
Henry. ... It seemed to belong there by right of the 
sad quality which is the distinction of all shattered 
dreams. . . . And, just imagine, he had considered his 
a wonderful scheme of revenge! But now it seemed a 


poor and a mean thing. He could hardly think of it as a 
part of the once proud, easy-going Myles Shannon, but 
rather the bitter and ugly result of some devilish prompt- 
ing that had come to him here in the lone stretches of 
his life in this quiet house among the trees. 


MORE than ever on this morning was Rebecca aware 
that the keen eye of Mrs. Wyse was upon her as 
she moved about the schoolroom. One of the bigger girls 
was despatched to the other school for Monica McKeon 
and Master Donnellan's assistant came in to Mrs. Wyse. 
She nodded the customary greeting to Rebecca as she 
passed in. This interview was unusual at such an early 
hour of the day. But it was never the custom of either 
of them to tell her of what they were talking. As she 
busied herself teaching the very smallest of the chil- 
dren she felt that the eyes of both women were upon 

After what appeared to be a very long time Monica 
passed out. On this second occasion she looked loftily 
across her glasses and gave no nod of acknowledgment 
to Rebecca. Rebecca blushed at this open affront. She 
felt that Mrs. Wyse must have something against her, 
something she had told Monica just now. . . . And now 
the principal was exceedingly busy with her pen as if 
writing a hurried note. . . . Rebecca heard the high, 
coarse voice raised in command: 

"Euphemia McGoldrick, I want you !" 

Then came the timid "Yes, ma'am !" of Euphemia. 

t i Here are two letters, child. Take this one to Father 
O'Keefte, your parish priest, and this to your mother, 
like a good* child. " 




Some fear of unknown things began to stir in the 
breast of Rebecca. This connection of Mrs. McGoldrick 
with Mrs. Wyse's occupation of the morning seemed to 
announce some dragging of her into the matter. But 
as yet, although her mind moved tremulously in its ex- 
citement, she had, curiously enough, no suspicion of what 
was about to happen. It could not be that Mrs. Wyse 
had suspected. Oh, not at all. There was still no 
danger. But it might be a near thing. . . . Already 
she had begun to wonder would Ulick come to-night. 
But of course he would come. He was not such 
a bad fellow. And he might be taken up with 
his own condition just now. He had missed his 
examination in Dublin: missed it, maybe, through 
his foolishness in coming to see her. . . . But al- 
ready she had thoroughly blamed herself for this. . . . 
To ease the pain of her mind she went busily about 
her work. She knew that the eye of Mrs. Wyse was. 
upon her and that the very best way of defeating it 
was by putting on this air of industry. The day, in 
its half-hour divisions, was passing rapidly towards 

A little girl came quickly in to say that Father 
O'Keeffe was coming up the road. Rebecca glanced 
out of the window and, sure enough, there he was upon 
his big, fat, white horse coming into the yard. She 
heard his loud cries calling into the Boys' School "for 
a chap to come out and hold his horse." When the boy 
came to do his bidding he held forth at great length 
upon the best way of leading "King Billy" around the 


Then the reverend manager of Tullahanogue Schools 
moved into the female portion of the establishment. At 
the door he twisted his round face into an aspect of 
severity which was still humorous in its alien incongruity. 
Here also he removed his hat from his head, which was 
white and bald like the apex of an egg above the red 
curve of his countenance. It was his custom to visit the 
schools of which he was manager, thus precociously to 
make up in some way for what he lacked in educa- 
tional knowledge and enthusiasm. As his short, squat 
figure moved up the passage by the desks, the massive 
head bowed low upon the broad chest and the fat fingers 
of both hands coiled behind his back, he was not at all 
unlike an actor made up as Napoleon Bonaparte. His 
voice was disciplined in the accents of militarism and 

Kebecca noticed on the instant that to-day he was as 
one intensified. He began to slap his legs continuously 
with his silver-mounted riding whip. He did not speak 
to her as he passed in. But, although it caused her 
heart to flutter for a moment, this appeared to her as 
no unusual occurrence. He never took notice of her un- 
less when she called at the vestry after Mass upon occa- 
sion to deliver up a slice of her salary in Dues and Offer- 
ings. Then the Napoleonic powerfulness disappeared 
and he fell to talking, with laughter in his words, about 
the richness of Royal Meath in comparison with the wild 
barrenness of Donegal. 

He moved up to where Mrs. Wyse was at work. Re- 
becca could distinctly hear the loud "Well, what's 
your best news?" with which he always prefaced his 
conversations. In low whispers they began to communi- 


cate. ... It was not till now that she began to have 
immense doubts as to the purpose of his visit, and already 
she was trembling in presence of the little children. 

"An example of her, Father!" 

"Oh yes, an example of her. Nothing less, Mrs. 

The words came down to Rebecca clearly through the 
deep silence that had fallen upon the school since the 
entrance of Father O'Keeffe. The bigger girls were 
listening, listening in a great hush of patience for all 
that had to be reported when they went home. Each one 
was preparing for her respective examination 

"Was there any one in the school to-day?" 

"Yes, mother!" 

"Who, the inspector?" 

"No, the Priest!" 

"Father O'Keeffe?" 

"Well, anything else?" 

"He was talking to Mrs. Wyse." 

"And what was he saying?" 

"I couldn't hear, mother, so I couldn't." 

"And why didn't you listen? What am I slaving 
myself to send you to school for?" 

And so they were listening with such eagerness now. 
They were looking down at Rebecca as if she were the* 
object of the whole discussion. Her thoughts were be- 
ginning to well into a swirling unconsciousness. . . . 
Great sounds, like those of roaring cataracts and the 
drumming of mighty armies were rolling up to her ears. 

Father O'Keeffe and Mrs. Wyse now came down the 
schoolroom together. As they passed Rebecca, Father 
O'Keeffe beckoned to her with his riding-whip in the way 


one might call to a very inferior hireling. Shaken by 
unique and powerful impulses, she went out into the 
hall-way to meet her superiors. . . . Instantaneously 
she knew what had happened they knew. 

"Well, isn't this a nice thing?" began Father 

"Ye might say it's a nice thing, Father!" echoed 
Mrs. Wyse. 

"An enormous thing!'* 

"A terrible thing! Father!" 

"You're a nice lady!" he said, addressing Rebecca 
angrily. "To come into a parish where there is none 
save decent people to leave a black disgrace upon it and 
you going away!" 

* * Was ever the like known, Father ? And just imagine 
her keeping it so secret. Why we thought there was 
nothing in this affair with Ulick Shannon. There was 
such an amount of cuteness in the way they used to 
meet at times and in places we never knew -of. In the 
woods, I suppose ! ' ' 

Father O'Keeffe was addressing her directly again. 

"Why, when I think of the disgrace to this school and 
all that, it drives me near mad." 

"And, mind you, the shocking insult it is to me and 
to the little children." 

* * The shocking insult to you and to the little children. 
True for you, Mrs. Wyse." 

"And when I think of how you have contrived to be- 
smirch the fair name of one of the fine, respectable 
families of the parish, gentlemen, as you might say, with- 
out one blot upon their escutcheon." 

"People as high up as the Houlihans of Clonabroney. " 


" People as high up as the Houlihans of Clonabroney, 

His eye was upon Kebecca with a sudden gleam. 

"When I think of that, I consider it an enormous 
offense. ..." She did not flinch before them. She 
was thinking only of the way in which they had come 
to hear it. ... She was concerned now that Ulick should 
not suffer, that his grand family name should not be 
dragged down with hers. ... If he had not come to 1 
her she would have slipped away without a word. . . . 
And now to think that it had become public. The pre- 
vious burning of her mind had been nothing to this. . . . 
But Father 'Keeffe was still speaking : 

"Listen to me, girl! You are to go from hence, but 
not, as you may imagine, to the place from whence you 
came. For this very evening I intend to warn your 
pastor of your lapse from virtue while in our midst, so 
that you may not return to your father's house and have 
no more hope of teaching in any National school within 
the four seas of Ireland. ' ' 

* ' That is only right and proper, Father ! ' ' put in Mrs. 

Rebecca was not listening or else she might have shud- 
dered within the shadow of the torture his words held for 
her. In these moments she had soared far beyond them. 
. . . Through the high mood in which she was accepting 
her tragedy she was becoming exalted. . . . What glo- 
rious moments there would be, what divine compensation 
in whispering of the torture surrounding its beginning to 
the little child when it came? 

"So now, Rebecca Kerr, I command you to go forth 


from this school and from the little children that you 
corrupt towards your own abomination by further pres- 
ence among them." 

As he moved angrily out of the school she moved 
quietly, and without speaking a word, to take her coat 
and hat down from the rack. 

"Oh, wait!" commanded Mrs. Wyse, "you must not 
leave until three, until you have made an example of 
yourself here in a way that all the children may bring 
home the story. God knows it will be the hard thing 
for them to be telling their mothers when they go home. 
The poor little things !" 

Rebecca stood there desolately alone in the hall-way 
through the remainder of the afternoon. In one aspect 
she appeared as a bold child being thus corrected by a 
harsh superior. On many more occasions than appeared 
absolutely necessary Monica McKeon passed and repassed 
her there as she stood so lonely. The assistant of the 
Boys' School was a model of disdain as, with her lip 
curled, she looked away out over her glasses. And ever 
and anon Mrs. Wyse passed in and out, muttering mourn- 
fully to herself : 

"The cheek of that now, before the children and all!" 

And the elder girls moved about her in a procession of 
sneering. They knew, and they were examining her for 
the purpose of giving full accounts when they went 

But, occasionally, some of the little ones would come 
and gaze up into her eyes with wild looks. Although 
they did not know why, they seemed to possess for her 
an immense, mute pity. 


"Poor Miss Ken*!" they would say, stroking her 
dress, but their big sisters would come and whisk them 

" Don't touch her. She's dirty " Then Monica 

would pass again. At last she heard the merciful stroke 
of three. 


WHEN John Brennan went to his room after his 
father's outburst it was with the intention of 
doing some preparation for the morrow 's work at the col- 
lege; but although he opened several books in turn, he 
could feel no quickening of knowledge in his mind. . . . 
There she was again continually recurring to his thoughts. 
And now she was far grander. This was the fear that 
had always been hidden in his heart, that somehow her 
friendship with Ulick was not a thing that should have 
happened. But he had considered it a reality he could 
not attempt to question. Yet he knew that but for Ulick 
she must be very near to him. And Ulick had admitted 
his unworthiness, and so the separation was at an end. 

It was surprising that this should have happened now. 
His mind sprang back to all that tenderness with which 
his thoughts of her had been surrounded through these 
long days of dreaming, when he had contrived to meet 
her, as if by accident, on her way from school. 

All through the next day his heart was upon her ; the 
thought of her would give peace. Into every vacant 
moment she would come with the full light of her pres- 
ence. He had suddenly relapsed into the mood that had 
imprisoned him after the summer holidays. He stood 
aloof from Father Considine and did not wish to see him 
through the whole of his long day in the college at Ballin- 
amult. . . . All the way home he pictured her. She was 



luring him now as she had always lured him towards 
a fairer vision of the valley. 

He noticed how the summer was again flooding over 
the fields like a great river spilling wide. It was a 
glorious coincidence that she should be returning to him 
now, a creature of brightness at a time of beauty. 

The road seemed short this pleasant afternoon, and the 
customary feeling of dusty weariness was not upon him 
as he leapt lightly off the bicycle at his mother's door. 
Mrs. Brennan came out to meet him eagerly. This was 
no unusual occurrence now that he had again begun to 
ascend the ladder of the high condition she had planned 
for him. She was even a far prouder woman now, for, 
somehow, she had always half remembered the stain of 
charity hanging over his uprise in England. Besides 
this he was nearer to her, moving intimately through 
the valley, a living part of her justification. . . . Her 
fading eyes now looked out tenderly at her son. There 
seemed to be a great light in them this afternoon, a 
great light of love for him. ... He was moved beneath 
their gaze. And still she continued to smile upon him in 
a weak way as within the grip of some strong excitement. 
He saw when he entered that his dinner was not set out 
as usual on the white table in the kitchen. . . . She 
brought him into the sewing-room. And still she had the 
same smile trembling upon her lips and the same light in 
her eyes. . . . All this was growing mysterious and 
oppressive. But his mood was proof against sad influ- 
ences. It must be some tale of good fortune come to 
their house of which his mother had now to tell. 

"D'ye know what, John? The greatest thing ever is 
after happening!" 


"Is that a fact, mother?' 1 

"Though mebbe 'tis not right for me to tell you and 
you all as one as a priest, I may say. But sure you're 
bound to hear it, and mebbe a little knowledge of the 
kind might not be amiss even to one in your exalted 
station. And then to make it better, it concerns two very 
near friends of yours, Mr. Ulick Shannon and Miss Re- 
becca Kerr, I thank you ! ' ' 

John Brennan's mind leaped immediately to interest. 
Were they gone back to one another, and after what he 
had thought to-day? This was the question his lips 
carried inwardly to himself. 

"I don't know how I can tell you. But Father 
'Keeffe was at school to-day in a great whet. He made 
a show of her before the children, Mrs. Wyse and Miss 
McKeon, of course, giving him good help. He dis- 
missed her, and told her to go about her business.. He'll 
mebbe speak of her publicly from the altar on Sun- 

"And what is it, mother, what ?" 

"Oh, she's going to have a misfortune, me son. She's 
going to be a mother, God bless us all ! and not married 
or a ha'porth!" 

"0 God!" 

"But sure she put in for nothing else, with her going 
up and all that to Dublin to have her dresses made, in- 
stead of getting them done nice and quiet and modest 
and respectable be me. I may tell you that I was more 
than delighted to hear it." 

"Well now, and the" 

John was biting his lips in passion, but she took 
another view of it as she interrupted him. 


"Ah, you may well ask who he is, who but that scoun- 
drel Ulick Shannon, that I was never done asking you 
not to speak to. You were young and innocent, of course, 
and could not be expected to know what I know. But 
mebbe you'll avoid him now, although I think he won't be 
long here, for mebbe Father O'Keeffe'll run him out of 
the parish. Maybe not though, for his uncle has bags of 
money. Indeed I wouldn't put it apast him if he was the 
lad encouraged him to this, for the Shannons were always 
blackguards in their hearts. . . . But it'll be great tc 
hear Father O'Keeffe on Sunday. I must be sure and 
go to his Mass. Oh, it'll be great to hear him !" 

"Yes, I suppose it will be great to hear him." 

John spoke out of the gathering bitterness of his heart. 

"I wonder what 11 become of her now. I wonder 
where '11 she go. Oh, to Dublin, I suppose. She was al- 
ways fond of it. ' ' 

His mother was in a very ecstasy of conjecture as to 
the probable extent of Rebecca's fate. And this was the 
woman who had always expressed a melting tenderness in 
her actions towards him. This was his mother who had 
spoken now with all uncharitableness. There was such 
an absence of human pity in her words as most truly 
appalled him. . . . Very quickly he saw too that it was 
upon his own slight connection with this tragic thing her 
mind was dwelling. This was to him now a token, not of 
love, but rather of enormous selfishness. . . . Her eyes 
were upon him still, watering in admiration with a weak 
gleam. . . . The four walls seemed to be moving in to 
crush him after the manner of some medieval torture 
chamber. . . . Within them, too, was beginning to rise 
a horrid stench as of dead human things. . . . This 


ghastliness that had sprung up between mother and son 
seemed to have momentarily blotted out the conscious- 
ness of both. They stared at one another now with 
glassy, unseeing eyes. 

After three Rebecca took her lonely way from the 
school. Neither Mrs. Wyse nor Monica McKeon had a 
word for her at parting. Neither this woman, who was 
many times a mother, nor this girl who might yet be a 
mother many times. They were grinning loudly ana 
passing some sneer between them, as they moved away 
from one another alone. 

Down the valley road she went, the sunlight dazzling 
her tired eyes. A thought of something that had hap- 
pened upon this day last year came with her remembrance 
of the date. It was the first anniversary of some slight, 
glad event that had brought her happiness, and yet what) 
a day it was of dire happening? Just one short year 
ago she had not known the valley or Ulick or this fearful 
thing. . . . There were friends about her .on this day last 
year and the sound of laughter, and she had not been 
so far distant from her father's house. And, God! to 
think that now she was so much alone. 

Suddenly she became aware that there was some one 
running by her side and calling "Miss Kerr! Miss 

"Oh, Janet Comaskey!" she said, turning. "Is it 

' ' Yes, Miss Kerr. I want to tell you that I was talking 
to God last night, and I was telling Him about you. He 
asked me did I like you, and I said I did. 'And so do 
I/ said He. 'I like Miss Kerr very much,' He said, 'for 
she's very nice, very, very nice.' " 


Rebecca had never disliked this queer child, but she 
loved her now, and bending down, warmly kissed her 
wild face. 

* * Thanks, miss. I only wanted to tell you about God/' 
said Janet, dropping behind. 

Rebecca was again alone, but now she was within sight 
of the house of Sergeant McGoldrick. It seemed to be 
dozing there in the sunlight. She began to question her- 
self did those within already know. . . . ? Now that the 
full publicity of her condition seemed imminent an ex- 
traordinary feeling of vanity was beginning to take pos- 
session of her. She took off her dust-coat and hung it 
upon her arm. Thus uncloaked she would face the eyes 
of Mrs. McGoldrick and her daughters, Euphemia and 
Clementina, and the eyes, very probably, of John Ross 
McGoldrick and Neville Chamberlain McGoldrick. . . . 

But when she entered the house she experienced the 
painful stillness of a tomb-like place. There was no one 
to be seen. She went upstairs with a kind of faltering in 
her limbs, but her head was erect and her fine eyes were 
flashing. . . . Even still was she soaring beyond and 
beyond them. Her eye was caught by a note pinned upon 
her door. It seemed very funny and, despite her present 
condition of confusion and worry, she smiled, for this was 
surely a melodramatic trick that Mrs. McGoldrick had 
acquired from the character of her reading. . . . Still 
smiling, she tore it open. It read like a proclamation, 
and was couched in the very best handwriting of Ser- 
geant McGoldrick. 

1 'Miss Kerr, 
Rev. Louis 'Keeffe, P.P., Garradrimna, has given 


notice that, on account of certain deplorable circum- 
stances, we are to refuse you permission to lodge with 
us any longer. This we hasten to do without any 
regret, considering that, to oblige you at the instiga- 
tion of Father 'Keeffe, we broke the ^Regulation of 
the Force, which forbids the keeping of lodgers by 
any member of that body. We hereby give you 
notice to be out of this house by 6 p.m. on this even- 
ing, May , 19 , having, it is understood, by 

that time packed up your belongings and discharged 
your liabilities to Mrs. McGoldrick. Father 
'Keeffe has, very magnanimously, arranged that 
Mr. Charles Clarke is to call for you with his motor 
and take you with all possible speed to the station 
at Kilaconnaghan. 

Sylvester McGoldrick (Sergeant, R.LC.)." 

The official look of the pronouncement seemed only to 
increase its gloomy finality, but the word "magnani- 
mously," fresh from the dictionary at the Barrack, made 
her laugh outright. The offense she had committed was 
unnamed, too terrible for words. She was being sen- 
tenced like a doomed Easter rebel. . . . Yet, even still, 
she was not without some thought of the practical as- 
pect of her case. She owed thirty shillings to Mrs. 
McGoldrick. This would leave her very little, out of 
the few pounds she had saved from her last instalment 
of salary, with which to face the world. This, of course, 
if Ulick did not come. . . . And here was her dinner, set 
untidily in the stuffy room where the window had not 
been opened since the time she had left it this morning 
in confusion. And the whole house was quiet as the 


grave. She never remembered to have heard it so 
quiet at any other time. It seemed as if all this silence 
had been designed with a studied calculation of the pain 
it would cause. There was no kindness in this woman 
either, although she too was a mother and had young 
daughters. It appeared so greatly uncharitable that 
in these last terrible moments she could not cast from 
her the small and pitiful enmity she had begun upon 
the evening of Rebecca's arrival in the valley. She 
would not come even now and help her pack up her 
things, and she so weary? . . . But it was easily done. 
The few articles that had augmented her wardrobe 
since her coming to the valley would go into the basket 
she had used to carry those which were barely necessary 
for her comfort when she went to that lonely cottage 
in Donegal. . . . The mean room was still bare as when 
she had first come to it. She had not attempted to 
decorate it. In a pile in one corner stood the full series 
of Irish School Weeklies and Weldon's Ladies' Journals 
she had purchased since her coming here. She had little 
use for either of these publications now, little use for the 
one that related to education or the other that related 
to adornment. 

There came a feverish haste upon her to get done with 
her preparations for departure, and soon they were com- 
pleted. She had her trunk corded and all ready. She 
had no doubt that Ulick would meet her upon The Road 
of the Dead at 5.30, the hour she had named in the letter 
of this morning. It was lucky she had so accurately 
guessed her possible time of departure, although some- 
how she had had no notion this morning of leaving so 


soon. But already it was more than 4.30 by her little 
wristlet watch. She put on her best dress, which had 
been left out on the bed, and redid her hair. It was 
still the certain salvage from the wreck she was becom- 
ing. Ulick or any other man, for all he had ruined her, 
must still love her for that hair of gold. It needed no 
crown at all, but a woman's vanity was still hers, and she 
put on a pretty hat which Ulick had fancied in Dublin. 
She had worn it for the first time last summer in Done- 
gal, and it became her better than any hat she had ever 
worn. . . . What would they say if they saw her moving 
about in this guise, so brazenly as it seemed, when she 
might be spoken of from the altar on Sunday? 

Now fell upon her a melancholy desire to see the 
chapel. There was yet time to go there and pray just 
as she had thought of praying on her first evening on 
coming to Garradrimna. She took a final glance at the 
little, mean room. It had not been a room of mirth for 
her, and she was not sorry to leave it there was the 
corded trunk to tell the tale of its inhospitality. She 
took the money for Mrs. Goldrick from her purse and 
put it into an envelope. . . . Going downstairs she left 
it upon the kitchen table. There was no one to be seen, 
but she could hear the scurrying of small feet from 
her as if she were some monstrous and forbidden thing. 

As she went up the bright road there was a flickering 
consciousness in her breast that she was an offense against 
the sunlight, but this feeling fled away from her when she 
went into the chapel and knelt down to pray. Her mind 
was full of her purpose, and she did not experience the 
distraction of one single, selfish thought. But when she 


put her hands up to her face in an attitude of piety 
she felt that her face was burning. 

It was a day for confessions, but there were few people 
in the chapel, and those not approaching the confes- 
sionals. The two young- curates, Father Forde and 
Father Fagan, were moving about the quiet aisles, each 
deeply intent upon the reading of his office. They were 
nearer the altar than to her, but for all the air of 
piety in which they seemed to be enveloped, they de- 
tected her presence immediately and simultaneously. 
Soon they began to extend their back and forward 
pacing to include her within the range of their side- 
long vision. . . . By the time she had got half way 
around her little mother-of-pearl rosary they were mov- 
ing past her and towards one another at her back. 
She was saying her poor prayers as well as she could, 
but there they were with their heads working up and 
down as they looked alternately at her and at their 
holy books. . . . Just as she got to the end of the last 
decade she was conscious that they had come together 
and were whispering behind her. ... It was not until 
then that she saw the chapel for what it stood in regard 
to her. It was the place where, on Sunday next, mean 
people would smirk in satisfaction as they sat listening 
in all their lack of charity and fulness of pride. . . . 
The realization brought the pulsing surge of anger 
to her blood and she rose to come away. But when 
she turned around abruptly there were the two curates 
with their eyes still fixed upon her. . . . She did not 
meet their looks full straight, for they turned away as 
if to avoid the contamination of her as she ran from the 
House of God. 


When John Brennan reached a point in his disgust 
where further endurance was impossible he broke away 
from the house and from his mother. He went out 
wildly through the green fields. 

But he would see her. He would go to her, for surely 
she had need of him now. ... If Ulick did not come. 
... And there was much in his manner and conversa- 
tion of the previous night to make it doubtful. ... If he 
did not take her away from this place and make her 
his own to protect and cherish, there was only one 
course left open. . . . He knew little of these things, 
for he knew little of the ways of life, but instinctively 
he felt that Rebecca would now cling to Ulick and that 
Ulick would be a great scoundrel if he spurned her 
from him. And what, he asked himself, would he, John 
Brennan, do in that case? 

No answer would spring directly to his thoughts, but 
some ancient, primeval feeling was stirring in his heart 
the answer that men have held to be the only answer from 
the beginning of the world. But that was a dreadful 
thing which, in its eddying circles of horror, might com- 
pass his own end also. 

But, maybe the whole story was untrue. He had 
heard his mother speak many a time after the same 
fashion, and there was never one case of the kind but 
had proved untrue. Yet it was terrible that no answer 
would come flashing out from his wild thoughts, and 
already he had reached The Eoad of the Dead. 

His wandering eyes had at last begun to rest upon a 
wide, green field. He saw the wind and sun conspiring 
to ripple the grass into the loveliest little waves. He had 
loved this always, and even the present state of his mind 


did not refuse the sensation of its beauty. He went and 
leaned across the field gate to gaze upon it. 

He turned suddenly, for there was a step approaching 
him along the road. Yes, surely it was she. It was 
Rebecca Kerr herself coming towards him down The 
Road of the Dead. . . . She was smiling, but from the 
dark, red shadows about her eyes it was easy to see that 
she had quite recently been crying. 

"Good evening, John Brennan!" she said. 

"Good evening, Miss Kerr!" 

There was a deep touch of concern, turning to anxiety, 
almost a rich tenderness in his words. She heard them 
for what they were, and there came to her clearly their 
accents of pity. . . . For the moment neither seemed 
capable of finding speech. . . . Her eyes were searching 
The Road of the Dead for the man she expected to meet 
her here. But he was not coming. In the silence that 
had fallen between them John Brennan had clearly 
glimpsed the dumb longing that was upon her. . . . 
He felt the final gloom that was moving in around her 
... yet he could not find speech. 

"I'm going away from the valley," said Rebecca. 

He made some noise in his throat, but she could hear 
no distinct word. 

"It was not you I expected to meet here this evening. 
It is so strange how we have met like this. ' ' 

"I just came out for a walk," he stammered, at a loss 
for something better to say. 

"I'm glad we have met," she said, "for this is the 
last time." 

It was easy to see that her words held much meaning 


for herself and him. . . . He seemed to be nearer the 
brink as her eyes turned from him again to search the 

"He will not come," she said, and there was a kind of 
wretched recklessness in her tones. ' ' I know he will not 
come, for that possibility has never been." She grew 
more resigned of a sudden. She saw that John Brennan 
too was searching the road with his eyes. . . . Then he 
knew the reason why she was going away. 

He was such a nice boy, and between his anxious 
watching now for her sake he was gazing with pity into 
her eyes. . . . He must know Ulick too as a man knows 
his friend, and that Ulick would not come to her in this 
her hour of trial. . . . The knowledge seemed the more 
terrible since it was through John Brennan it had come ; 
and yet it was less terrible since he did not disdain her 
for what she had done. She saw through his excuse. 
He had come this way with the special purpose of seeing 
her, and if he had not met her thus accidentally he must 
inevitably have called at the house of Sergeant McGold- 
rick to extend his farewell. She was glad that she had 
saved him this indignity by coming out to her own 
disappointment. . . . She was sorry that he had again 
returned to his accustomed way of thinking of her, that 
he had again departed from the way into which she had 
attempted to direct him. 

And now there loomed up for her great terror in this 
thought. Yet she could read it very clearly in the way he 
was looking so friendly upon her. . . . Why had he al- 
ways looked upon her in this way? Surely she had 
never desired it. She had never desired him. It was 


Ulick she had longed for always. It was Ulick she had 
longed for this evening, and it was John Brennan who 
had come. . . . Yes, how well he had come ? It was very 
simple and very beautiful, this action of his, but in its 
simple goodness there was a fair promise of its high 
desolation. It appeared that she stood for his ruin also, 
and, even now, in the mounting moments of her fear, 
this appeared as an ending far more appalling. . . . 
She was coming to look at her own fate as a thing she 
might be able to bear, but there was something so vastly 
filled with torture in this thought. . . . Whenever she 
would look into the eyes of the child and make plans 
for its little future she would think of John Brennan 
and what had happened to him. 

She felt that they had been a long time standing here 
at this gate, by turns gazing anxiously up and down the 
road, by turns looking vacantly out over the sea of grass. 
Time was of more account than ever before, for was it 
not upon this very evening that she was being banished 
from the valley? 

"I must go now," she said; "he will never come." 

He did not answer, but moved as if to accompany her. 
. . . She grew annoyed as she observed his action. 

"No, no, you must not come with me now. You must 
not speak with me again. I have placed myself forever 
beyond your friendship or your thought!" 

As she extended her hand to him her heart was moved 
by a thousand impulses. 

"Good-by, John Brennan!" she said simply. 

"Good-by, Rebecca!" said he at last, finding speech 
by a tremendous effort. . . . And without another word 
they parted there on The Road of the Dead. 


Outside the garden gate of Sergeant McGoldrick 
Charlie Clarke was waiting for her with his motor-car. 
Her trunk had been put in at the back. This was an 
unholy job for a saintly chauffeur, but it was Father 
O'Keeffe's command and his will must be done. When 
the news of it had been communicated to him he had 
said a memorable thing: 

"Well, now, the quare jobs a religious man has some- 
times to do; but maybe these little punishments are by 
way of satisfaction for some forgotten and far-distant 

Eebecca understood his anxiety to have her off his 
hands as she saw him jump in behind the wheel at her 
approach. She got in beside her poor trunk, and pres- 
ently the car would be ready to start. There was not a 
trace of any of the McGoldrick family to be seen. . . . 
But there was a sudden breaking through the green hedge 
upon the other side of the road, and Janet Comaskey 
stood beside the car. Rebecca was surprised by the sud- 
den appearance of the little, mad girl at this moment. 

' ' Miss Kerr, Miss Kerr ! " she called. ' ' I got this from 
God. God told me to give you this!" 

The car started away, and Rebecca saw that the super- 
scription on the letter she had been handed was in the 
pronounced Vere Foster style of Master Donnellan. 
Doubtless it was some long-winded message of farewell 
from the kind-hearted master, and she would not open 
it now. It would be something to read as she moved 
away towards Dublin. 

Just now her eyes were being filled by the receding 
pageant of the valley, that place of all earth's places 
which had so powerfully arrayed its villainy against her. 


. . . And to think that he had not come. ... It was the 
Valley of Hinnom. . . . Yes, to think that he had not 
come after all she had been to him, after all the love of 
her heart she had given him. No word could ever, ever 
pass between them again. They were upon the very 
brink of the eternity of separation. She knew now that 
for all the glory in which she had once beheld him, he 
must shrivel down to the bitter compass of a little, pain- 
ful memory. Oh, God ! to think he had not replied to her 
letter, and the writing of it had given her such pain. 

They were at the station of Kilaconnaghan. Charlie 
Clarke had not spoken all through the journey, but now 
he came up to her indignantly, as if very vexed for being 
compelled to speak to her at all, and said : * ' The fare is 
one pound!" 

The words smote her with a little sense of shock. She 
had been expecting something by way of climax. She 
was very certain in her consciousness that the valley 
would not let her slip thus quietly away. A pound for 
the journey, although it was Father O'Keeffe who had 
engaged the car. She must pay this religious robber a 
huge price for the drive. There rushed through her 
mind momentarily a mad flash of rebellion. The valley 
was carrying its tyranny a little too far. . . . She would 
not pay. . . . But almost immediately she was searching 
for a note in her purse. . . . There were so very few of 
them now. Yet she could not leave the valley with any 
further little stain upon her. They would talk of a thing 
like this for years and years. 

With a deadly silence hanging over him and fearful 
thoughts coming into his mind Myles Shannon had kept 


himself and his nephew Ulick at work all through the 
day. After tea in the lonely dining-room he fetched in 
his inky account books, which had been neglected for 
many a month. His nephew would here have work to 
occupy him for the remainder of the evening and prob- 
ably far into the night. Ulick was glad of the task, for 
his mind was very far from being at ease. 

Then Mr. Shannon took 100 from the old-fashioned 
bureau in the parlor, which held, with the other things, 
all his papers and accounts, and while the evening was 
yet high went down towards the house of Sergeant Mc- 
Goldrick to see Rebecca Kerr. Around a bend of the 
road he encountered Charlie Clarke on his way back from 
Kilaconnaghan, where he had been delayed upon bazaar 

The saintly chauffeur at once put on the brakes. This 
was Mr. Myles Shannon and some one worth speaking to. 
He bowed a groveling salute. 

"You're out pretty late?" said Mr. Shannon. 

1 * Oh, yes ! ' ' And then he went on to describe his work 
of the evening. He felt inclined to offer his condolence 
to Mr. Shannon in a most respectful whisper, but thought 
better of it at the last moment. 

"And no one knows where she has gone?" 

"No one. She has disappeared from the valley." 

* ' She went away very suddenly. ' ' 

"Yes, Father O'Keeffe saw that, in the public interest, 
she should disappear after this fashion. The motor was 
a help, you know." 

Charlie Clarke offered to drive Mr. Shannon to his 
home. No word passed between them as they drew up 
the avenue to the lonely house among the trees. 


In the train, moving on towards Dublin, Rebecca Kerr 
had just opened the letter from Master Donnellan. It 
contained a 5 note. . . . This was like a cry of mercy 
and pardon for the valley. . . . The rich fields of Meath 
were racing by. 


THERE was a curious hush about the lake next even- 
ing, although the little cottage of Hughie Murtagh 
was swept by winds which stirred mournfully through 
all the bright abundance of early summer. Even the 
orange-blossoms of the furze seemed to put on an aspect 
of surrender. There was no challenge in their color 
now; they looked almost white against a somber sunset. 
John Brennan moped about among the fir-trees. He 
came to a stand-still by one that had begun to decay 
and which was even more mournful in its failure to con- 
tribute another plumed head to the general effect of 
mourning. But it seemed to shake enraged at this im- 
potence in its poor foundation over the deserted warren, 
from which Shamesy Golliher had long since driven the 
little rabbits towards that dark Chicago of slaughter 
which was represented to them by Garradrimna. 

The same color of desolation was upon the reeds which 
separated him from the water. The water itself had, 
beneath its pretense of brightness upon the surface, the 
appearance of ooze, as if it had come washing over the 
slime of dead things. 

It was here that John Brennan had come to wait for 
Ulick Shannon, and, as he waited, his mood became that 
of his surroundings. ... He fell to running over what 
had happened to him. Alternately, in the swirl of his 
consciousness, it appeared as the power of the valley and 



as the Hand of God. Yet, whatever it might be in truth, 
this much was certain. It had reduced his life to ruins. 
It was a fearful thing, and he shuddered a little while he 
endeavored to produce a clear picture of it for the chas- 
tisement as well as the morbid excitement of his imagina- 

But there came instead a far different picture, which 
seemed to have the effect of lifting for a moment the 
surrounding gloom. He saw Rebecca Kerr again as upon 
many an afternoon they had met. For one brave moment 
he strove to recover the fine feeling that had filled him 
at those times. But it would not come. Something had 
happened, something terrible which soiled and spoiled 
her forever. 

For love of her he had dreamed even unto the desire 
of defeating his mother's love. And yet there was no 
triumph in his heart now, nothing save defeat and a great 
weariness. Neither his mother nor Rebecca Kerr were 
any longer definite hopes upon which his mind might 
dwell. . . . His thoughts were running altogether upon 
Ulick Shannon. It was for Ulick he waited now in this 
lonely, wind-swept place, like any villain he had ever 
seen depicted upon the cover of a penny dreadful in 
Phillips 's window when he was a boy. He now saw him- 
self fixed in his own imagination after this fashion. 
Ulick Shannon would soon come. There was no doubt of 
this, for a definite appointment had been made during 
the day. He had remained at home from the college in 
Ballinamult to bring it about. Soon they would be en- 
deavoring to enter what must be the final and tragic bye- 
way of their story. And it must be all so dreadfuly in- 
teresting, this ending he had planned. . . . Now the 


water came flowing towards him more rapidly as if to 
hurry the tragedy. It came more thickly and muddily 
and with long, billowy strides as if it yearned to gather 
some other body still holding life to its wild breast. Its 
waters kept flowing as if from some wide wound that 
ached and would not be satisfied; that bled and called 
aloud for blood forever. 

Now also the evening shadows were beginning to creep 
down the hills and with them a deeper hush was coming 
upon the wild longing of all things. Yet it was no hush 
of peace, but rather the concentration of some horrible 
purpose upon one place. 

"I am going away on Friday," Ulick had written in 
one of the two notes that had been exchanged between 
them by the messenger during the day, "and I would 
like to see you for what must, unfortunately, be the last 
time. I am slipping away unknown to my uncle or to 
any one, and it is hardly probable that I will be seen 
in these parts again. " 

At length he beheld the approach of Ulick down the 
long Hill of Annus. . . . His spirit thrilled within him 
and flamed again into a white flame of love for the girl 
who was gone. . . . And coming hither was the man who 
had done this thing. . . . The thickest shadows of the 
evening would soon be gathered closely about the scene 
they were to witness. . . . The very reeds were rustling 
now in dread. 

The lake was deep here at the edge of the water. . . . 
And in the rabbit-warren beneath his feet were the heavy 
pieces of lead piping he had transported in the night. 
He had taken them from his father's stock of plumber's 
materials, that moldy, unused stock which had so long 


lain in the back yard and which, in a distant way, 
possessed an intimate connection with this heaped-up 
story. ... In a little instant of peculiar consciousness he 
wondered whether it would be pliable enough. . . . There 
were pieces for the legs and pieces for the arms which 
would enfold those members as in a weighty coffin. . . . 
And hidden nearer to his hand was the strangely-shaped, 
uncouth weapon his father had used many a time with 
such lack of improvement upon the school slates and with 
which one might kill a man. . . . The body would rest 
well down there beneath the muddy waters. . . . There 
would be no possibility of suspicion falling upon him, 
for the story of Rebecca Kerr's disgrace and Ulick Shan- 
non 's connection with it had already got about the valley. 
. . . He had been listening to his mother telling it to 
people all day. . . . Ulick 7 s disappearance, in a way self- 
effacing and unnamed, was hourly expected. This op- 
portunity appeared the one kind trick of Fate which had 
been so unkind to the passionate yearnings of John 

But Ulick Shannon was by his side, and they were talk- 
ing again as friends of different things in the light way 
of old. . . . Their talk moved not at all within the 
shadows of things about to happen presently. . . . But 
the shadows were closing in, and very soon they must 
fall and lie heavily upon all things here by the lake. 

"Isn't it rather wonderful, Brennan, that I should be 
going hence through the power of a woman ? It is very 
strange how they always manage to have their revenge, 
how they beat us in the long run no matter how we may 
plume ourselves on a triumph that we merely fancy. 
Although we may degrade and rob them of their treasure, 


ours is the final punishment. Do you remember how I 
told you on that day we were at the * North Leinster 
Arms, ' in Ballinamult, there was no trusting any woman ? 
Not even your own mother! Now this Rebecca Kerr, 
she " 

The sentence was never finished. John Brennan had 
not spoken, but his hand had moved twice to lift the 
uncouth weapon from the foot of the tree and again to 
strike the blow. . . . The mold of unhappy clay from 
which the words of Ulick had just come was stilled for- 
ever. The great cry which struggled to break from the 
lips resulted only in a long-drawn sigh that was like a 
queer swoon. The mournful screech of a wild bird fly- 
ing low over the lake drowned the little gust of sound. 
. . . Then the last lone silence fell between the two young 
men who had once been most dear companions. 

No qualms of any kind came to the breast of John 
Brennan. He had hardened his heart between the leap- 
ing flames of Love and Hate, and there was upon him now 
the feeling of one who has done a fine thing. He was in 
the moment of his triumph, yet he was beginning to be 
amazed by his sudden power and the result of his deci- 
sion. . . . That he, John Brennan, should have had it in 
him to murder his friend. . . . But no, it was his enemy 
he had murdered, the man who had desecrated the beauty 
of the world. . . . And there was a rare grandeur in 
what he had done. It was a thing of beauty snatched 
from the red hands of Death. 

Yet as he went about his preparations for submerging 
the body he felt something akin to disgust for this the 
mean business of the murder. . . . Here was where the 
beauty that had been his deed snapped finally from exist- 


ence in his consciousness and disappeared from him. 

Henceforth gray thought after gray thought came 
tumbling into his mind. Ulick had not been a bad fellow. 
He had tried to be kind to him all the motor-drives and 
the walks and talks they had had. Even the bits of days 
and nights spent together in Garradrimna. . . . And how 
was Ulick to know of his affection for Rebecca Kerr? 
There had never been the faintest statement of the fact 
between them; his whole manner and conversation and 
the end for which he was intended forbade any sus- 
picion of the kind. In fact to have had such a doubt 
would have been a sin in the eyes of many a Catholic. 
. . . The legs and arms were well weighted now. . . . 
This might not have happened if his mother had been 
attended in the right spirit of filial obedience. . . . But 
with the arrogance of youth, which he now realized for 
the first time, he had placed himself above her opinion 
and done what he had desired at the moment. And 
why had he done so? ... She would seem to have had 
foreboding of all this in the way she had looked upon him 
so tenderly with her tired eyes many a time since his 
memorable home-coming last summer. She had always 
been so fearfully anxious. . . . Here must have been the 
melancholy end she had seen at the back of all dreaming. 
. . . He could feel that sad look clearly, all dimmed by 
dark presentiments. 

The body was a great weight. He strove to lift it in 
his arms in such a way that his clothes might not be soiled 
by the blood. . . . His face was very near the pale, dead 
face with the red blood now clotting amongst the hair. 
. . . He was almost overpowered by his burden as he 
dragged it to the water's edge. ... It was a very fearful 


thing to look at just as the water closed over it with a low, 
gurgling sound, as if of mourning, like the cry of the bird 
in the moment the murder had been done. 

As he staggered back from the sighing reeds he noticed 
that the ground was blood-drenched beneath the tree. 
. . . But he was doing the thing most thoroughly. In a 
frenzy of precautionary industry he began to hack away 
the earth with the slating implement very much as 
Shamesy Golliher might hack it in search of a rabbit. 

Later he seemed to put on the very appearance of 
Shamesy himself as, with bent body, he slouched away 
across the ridge of the world. He too had just effected a 
piece of slaughter and Garradrimna seemed to call him. 


WHEN he came out upon the valley road he was no 
longer the admirable young man he had been less 
than a year since. He was a broken thing, and he was 
stained by another's blood. He was marked eternally 
by what he had done, and there was upon him a degrada- 
tion unspeakable. He was an offense against existence 
and against the gathering, blessed gloom of the quiet 
evening. . . . He had murdererd one who had been his 
friend, and it was a thing he might never be able to 
forget. The body, with all the lovely life so recently 
gone from it, he had weighted and sunk beneath the sur- 
face of the lake. ... It was down there now, a poor, 
dead thing among the ooze of dead things from which 
the water had taken its color and quality. The wild 
spirit that had been Ulick Shannon, so contradictory in 
its many aspects, was now soaring lightly aloft upon the 
wings of clean winds and he, John Brennan, who had 
effected this grand release, felt the weights still heavy 
about his heart. 

He came on a group of children playing by the road- 
side. It seemed as if they had been driven across his 
path to thwart him with their innocence. He instantly 
remembered that other evening when he had been pained 
to hear them express the ugly, uncharitable notions of 
their parents regarding a child of another religion. 
Now they were playing merrily as God had intended 



them to play, and religion, with its tyranny of compul- 
sion towards thoughts of death and sin, seemed distant 
from them, and distant was it from him too. His mind 
was empty of any thought. Would no kindly piece of 
imagination come down to cool his spirit with its grace 
or lift from his heart the oppression of the leaden weights 
he had bound about the body of Ulick Shannon? . . . 
At last he had remembrance of his mother. It had been 
borne in upon him during some of his lonely cycle-rides 
to and from Ballinamult that things should not be, some- 
how, as they were. He was moving along exalted ways 
while his mother labored in lonely silence at her machine. 
. . . Where was the money coming from ? Such an un- 
productive state as his required money for its upkeep. 
His father was no toiler, but she was always working 
there alone in the lonely room. Her hands were grown 
gnarled and hard through her years of labor. . . . Just 
presently she was probably discussing a dismal matter 
of ways and means with some woman of the valley, say- 
ing as she had said through the long years : 

"Thank God and His Blessed Mother this night, I still 
have me hands. Aye, that's what I was just saying to 
Mrs. So and So this morning Thank God I still have me 

Thus she was going on now, he imagined, as he had 
always heard her, a pathetic figure sitting there and 
looking painfully through the heavy, permanent mist that 
was falling down upon her eyes. And yet it was not 
thus she really was at this moment. For although it was 
a woman who held her company, there was no mood of 
peace between them. It was Marse Prendergast who was 
with her, and she was proceeding busily with her eternal 


whine. Mrs. Brennan was now disturbed in her mind 
and fearful of the great calamity that might happen. 
"While she had bravely maintained the money in the little 
chest upstairs there had lingered, in spite of every afflic- 
tion, a sense of quietness and independence. But now 
she was without help and as one distraught. Of late this 
gibbering old woman had obtained a certain power over 
her, and a considerable portion of the once proud Mrs. 
Brennan had fallen finally away. Although, at unac- 
countable moments, her strong pride would spring up 
to dazzle the people of the valley, she did not now possess 
that remarkable imperviousness which had so distin- 
guished her attitude towards life. Now she was in a 
condition of disintegration, unable to maintain an an- 
tagonism or hide a purpose. The old ruined woman, the 
broken shuiler of the roads, was beginning to behold 
the ruins of another woman, the ruins of Mrs. Brennan, 
who had once been so " thick" and proud. 
"So you won't hearken to me request?" 
* ' I can 't, Marse dear. I have no money to give you ! ' ' 
This was a true word, for the little store upstairs had 
gone this way and that. Tommy Williams had had to 
be given his interest, and although people might think 
that John was getting his education for charity, no one 
knew better than she the heavy fees of the college in 
Ballinamult. Besides, he must keep up a good appear- 
ance in the valley. 

But when Marse Prendergast made a demand she knew 
no reason and could make no allowance. 

"Well, Nan, me dear, I must do me duty. I must 
speak out when you can't bribe me to be silent. I must 
do a horrid piece of business this night. I must turn 


a son against his mother. Yes, that must be the way of 
it now, a son turned for good against his mother. For 
surely there could be no pardon in his grand, holy eyes 
for what you were once upon a time. But let me tell 
you this, that I'd have acquainted him anyhow, for I'd 
not have gone to me grave with that sin on me no matter 
what. They say it isn 't right to offer a son to God where 
there's after being any big blemish in the family, and 
that if you do a woful misfortune or a black curse comes 
of it. And sure that was the quare, big blemish in your 
family, Nan Byrne, the quarest blemish ever was." 

Mrs. Brennan began to cry. She seemed to have come 
at last to the end of all her long attempt to brazen 
things out. . . . Marse Prendergast was not slow to ob- 
serve this acceptance of defeat, and saw that now surely 
was her time to be hard and bitter. She was growing 
so old, a withered stump upon the brink of years, and 
there was upon her an enormous craving for a little 
money. People were even driven, by her constant whine 
for this thing and that, to say how she had a little store 
of her own laid by which she gloated over with a wicked 
and senile delight. And for what, in God's name, was 
she hoarding and she an old, lone woman with the life 
just cross-wise in her? . . . And it was always Mrs. 
Brennan whom she had visited with her singular and 
special persecution. 

"I suppose now you think you're the quare, clever 
one to be going on with your refusals from day to day. 
I suppose you think I don't know that you have a chesht 
full of money that you robbed from poor Henry Shannon, 
God be good to him, when he used to be coming running 
to see you, the foolish fellow!" 


1 'As God's me judge, Marse Prendergast, I haven't 
e'er a penny in the house. I'm in debt in Garradrimna 
this blessed minute, and that's as sure as you're there!" 

' ' Go on out of that with your talk of debts, and you to 
be sending your son John through his college courses 
before all our eyes like any fine lady in the land. And 
think of all the grand money you'll be getting bye and 
bye in rolls and cartloads!" 

"Aye, with the help of God!" 

Even in the moment of her torment Mrs. Brennan 
could not restrain her vanity of her son. 

"And to think of all that being before you now and 
still you keep up your mean refusals of the little thing 
I ask, ' ' said the old woman with the pertinacious unrea- 
sonableness of age. 

"I haven't got the money, Marse, God knows I 

"God knows nothing, Nan Byrne, only your shocking 
villainy. And 'tis the great sin for you surely. And if 
God knows this, it is for some one else to know your sin. 
It is for your son John to know the kind of a mother 
that he loves and honors." 

Mrs. Brennan had heard this threat on many an occa- 
sion yet even now the repetition of it made her grow sud- 
denly pale. . . . An expression of sickliness was upon 
her face seen even through the shadowed sewing-room. 
Always this thought had haunted her that some time 
John might come to know. 

' ' Long threatening comes at last ! ' ' was a phrase that 
had always held for her the darkest meaning. She could 
never listen to any woman make use of it without shud- 


dering violently. Marse Prendergast had threatened so 
often and often. 

"Ah, no, Nan Byrne, this is something I could never 
let pass. And all the long days I saw you contriving 
here at the machine, and you so anxious and attentive, 
sure I used to be grinning to myself at the thoughts 
of the bloody fine laugh I 'd be having at you some day. 
I used, that's God's truth!" 

It seemed terrible to be told the story of this hate 
that had been so well hidden, now springing up before 
her in a withering blast of ingratitude and being borne to 
her understanding upon such quiet words. . . . She 
sighed ever so slightly, and her lips moved gently in the 
aspiration of a prayer. 

"0 Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" was what she said. 

The pious ejaculation seemed to leap at once towards 
the accomplishment of a definite purpose, for immediately 
it had the effect of moving Marse Prendergast towards the 

" I 'm going now ! ' ' 

The words were spoken with an even more chilling 
quietness. Mrs. Brennan made a noise as if to articulate 
something, but no words would come from her. 

"And let you not be thinking that 'tis only this little 
thing I'm going to tell him, for there's a whole lot more. 
I'm going to tell him all I know, all that 7 dadn't tell you 
through the length of the years, though, God knows, it 
has been often burning me to tell. . . . You think, I sup- 
pose, as clever as you are, that the child was buried in the 
garden. Well, that's not a fact, nor the color of a fact, 
for all I've made you afraid of it so often. . . . Grace 


Gogarty had no child of her own for Henry Shannon. 
Ulick Shannon is your own child that was sold be your 
ould mother for a few pound!" 

" That's a lie for you, Marse Prendergast ! " 
' l 'Tis no lie at all I 'm telling you, but the naked truth. 
I suppose neither of them lads, Ulick nor John, ever 
guessed the reason why they were so fond of one another, 
but that was the reason ; and 'tis I used to enjoy seeing 
them together and I knowing it well. Isn't it curious 
now to say that you're the mother of a blackguard and 
the mother of the makings of a priest ? . . . Mebbe you 'd 
give me the little bit of money now ? Mebbe ? ' ' 

Mrs. Brennan did not answer. Big tears were rolling 
down her cheeks one after the other. . . . Her heart had 
been rent by this sudden flash of information. Even the 
last remaining stronghold of her vanity had been swept 
away. That she, who had claim in her own estimation 
to be considered the wise woman of the valley, could not 
have long since guessed at the existence of a fact so inti- 
mate. . . . Her heart was wounded, not unto death, but 
immortally. . . . Her son! Ulick Shannon her son! 
O Mother of God! 

John Brennan was still in his agony as he saw the 
long-tongued shuiler coming towards him down the road. 
She was making little journeys into the ditches as she 
came along. She was gathering material for a fire al- 
though every bush was green. . . . She was always shiv- 
ering at the fall of night. The appearance of the chil- 
dren had filled him with speculations as to where he 
might look for some comfort. . . . Could it be derived 
from the precepts of religion translated into acts of 


human kindness? Momentarily lie was confused as he 
attempted to realize some act of goodness to be done here 
and now. He was unable to see. 

Old Marse Prendergast, coming towards him slowly, 
was the solitary link connecting his mind with any 
thought. To him she appeared the poor old woman in 
need of pity who was gathering green sticks from the 
hedge-rows to make her a fire which would not kindle. 
He remembered that morning, now some time distant, 
when he had helped her carry home a bundle of her sticks 
on his way from Mass. It had appeared to him then, as 
it did now, a Christ-like action, but his mother had re- 
buked him for it. Yet he had always wished his mother 
to take the place of Mary when he tried to snatch some 
comfort from the Gospel story. Soon he was by her side 
speaking as kindly as he could. . . . Great fear was 
already upon him. 

* * God bless you, me little Johneen, me little son ; sure 
'tis yourself has the decent, kind heart to be taking pity 
upon the old. Arrah now ! You 're alone and lonely this 
evening, I notice, for your friend is gone from you. It 
bees lonely when one loses one 's comrade. Ah, 'tis many 
a year and more since I lost me comrade through the 
valley of life. Since Marks Prendergast, the good hus- 
band of me heart and the father of me children, was lost 
on me. Sure he was murdered on me one St. Patrick's 
Day fair in Garradrimna. He was ripped open with a 
knife and left there upon the street in his blood for me 
to see. . . . That's the way, that's the way, me sweet 
gosoon; some die clean and quiet, and some go away in 
their blood like the way they came." 

Had she devoted much time and skill to it she could 


not have produced a more dire effect upon John than 
by this accidental turn of her talk. . . . The scene by the 
lakeside swam clearly into his eyes again. 

"I suppose your good comrade is gone away?" 

"Whom, what?" 

"Ulick Shannon, to be sure. I suppose he's after 
slipping away be this time anyway. ' ' 

"Aye, he's he's gone away." 

"That was what you might call the nice lad. And it 
was no wonder at all that you were so much attached to 
one another. Never a bit of wonder at all. . . . Sure 
you were like brothers." 

John was so solicitous in maintaining his silence that 
he did not notice the old woman's terrible sententious- 
ness. ... He went on pulling green sticks from the 
hedge and placing them very carefully by the side of 
those she had already gathered. 

"Just like brothers. That's what ye were, just like 
brothers. He, he, he!" 

Although he did not detect the note of laughter in it 
that was hollow and a mockery, he was nevertheless ap- 
palled by what should appear as a commendation of him 
who was gone. ... He felt himself shaking even as the 
leaves in the hedgerows were being shaken by the light 
wind of evening. 

"Like brothers, avic machree." 

Even still he did not reply. 

"Like brothers, I say, and that's the whole story. 
For ye were brothers. At least you were of the one 
blood, because ye had the same woman for the mother 
of ye both." 

Certainly she was raving, but her words were having 


an unusual effect upon him. He was keeping closer to 
the hedge as if trying to hide his face. 

"To-night, me fine gosoon, I'm going to do a terrible 
thing. I'm going to tell you who your mother is, and 
then you'll know a quare story. You'll know that Ulick 
Shannon, good luck to him wherever he 's gone, was noth- 
ing less than your own brother. ... It is she that is 
after forcing me on to it be her penurious and miserly 
ways. I didn't want to tell ye, John! I say, I didn't 
want to tell ye!" 

Her old, cracked voice trailed away into a high screech. 
John Brennan was like a man stunned by a blow as he 
waited for her to speak the rest of the story. 

"Ulick Shannon's father, Henry Shannon, was the one 
your mother loved. She never cared for your father, nor 
he for her. So you might say you are no love child. 
But there was a love child in it to be sure, and that child 
was Ulick Shannon. Your mother was his mother. He 
was born out of wedlock surely, but he happened handy, 
and was put in the place of Grace Gogarty's child that 
died and it a weeshy, young thing. ... It was your 
grandmother that sold him, God forgive her, if you want 
to know, for I was watching the deed being done. . . . 
Your mother always thought the bastard was murdered 
in the house and buried in the garden. I used to be for- 
ever tormenting her by making her think that only 
it was me could tell. There was no one knew it for 
certain in the whole world, only me and them that were 
dead and gone. So your mother could not have found 
out from any one but me, and she might never have 
found out only for the way she used to be refusing me of 
me little dues. . . . But I can tell you that she found 


out this evening how she was the mother of Ulick 
Shannon, and that you, the beloved son she cherished 
in her heart and put on in all her pride to be a priest 
of God, was a near blood relation of the boy she was 
never done but running down. The boy that she, above 
all others, with her prate and gab made a drunkard of 
in the first place, and then rushed on, be always talk- 
ing of the like about him, to do great harm to this girl. 
But sure it was myself that could not blame him at all, 
for it was in him both ways, the poor, unfortunate 

There was no reason to doubt the old shuiler's story, 
with such passionate vehemence did it fall from her. 
And its coherence was very convincing. It struck him 
as a greater blow which almost obliterated his under- 
standing. In the first moment he could stand apart 
from it and look even blindly it appeared as the swift 
descent of Divine vengeance upon him for what he had 
just done. . . . He moved away, his mind a bursting 
tumult, and without a sight in his eyes. . . . The mock- 
ing laughter of Marse Prendergast rang in his ears. 
Now why was she laughing at him when it was his mother 
who was her enemy? 

He was walking, but the action was almost unnoticed 
by him. He was moving aimlessly within the dark, en- 
circling shadow of his doom. . . . Yet he saw that he 
was not far distant from Garradrimna. . . . The last 
time he had been there at the period of the day he had 
been in company with Ulick Shannon. It was what had 
sprung out of those comings together that was now 
responsible for this red ending. ... He remembered 
also how the port wine had lifted him out of himself and 


helped him to see Rebecca Kerr. . . . The windows were 
squinting through the gloom as he went the road. 

There was stronger drink in Garradrimna and pubs, 
of greater intensity than McDermott's. There was "The 
World's End," for instance, that tavern so fantastically 
named by the Hon. Reginald Moore in memory of an inn 
of the same name that had struck his fancy in England. 
. . . The title now seemed particularly appropriate. 

It was towards this place his feet were moving. In 
another spell of thought which surprised him by the pre- 
caution it exhibited, he remembered that his father would 
not be there; for, although it had been Ned Brennan's 
famous haunt aforetime, he had been long ago forbidden 
its doors. It was in this, one of the seven places of 
degradation in Garradrimna, he was now due to appear. 

He went very timidly up to the back-door, which 
opened upon a little, secluded passage. He ordered a 
glass of whiskey from the greasy barmaid who came 
to attend him. . . . He felt for the money so carefully 
wrapped in tissue-paper in his waistcoat pocket. It was 
a bright gold sovereign that his mother had given him 
on the first day of his course at Ballinamult College 
to keep against any time he might be called upon to 
show off the fact that he was a gentleman. As he un- 
folded it now, from the careful covering in which she 
had wrapped it, it seemed to put on a tragic significance. 
. . . He was fearfully anxious to be in the condition 
that had brought him his vision on the night he had slept 
by the lake. 

He drank the whiskey at one gulp, and it seemed a 
long time until the barmaid returned with the change. 
Sovereigns were marvels of rare appearance at "The 


World's End." He thanked her and called for another, 
paying her as she went. She was remarkably mannerly, 
for, in the narrow gloom of the place, she took him to 
he some rich stranger. She had seen the color of his 
money and liked it well. 

The whiskey seemed to possess magical powers. It 
rapidly restored him to a mood wherein the distress that 
was his might soon appear a small thing. Yet he grew 
restless with the urgency that was upon him and glanced 
around in search of a distraction for his galloping brain. 
. . . He bent down and peered through the little 
aperture which opened upon the public bar of "The 
World's End." In there he saw a man in a heated 
atmosphere and enveloped by dense clouds of tobacco- 
smoke. They were those who had come in the roads to 
forget their sweat and labor in the black joy of porter. 
Theirs was a part of the tragedy of the fields, but it was 
a meaner tragedy. Yet were they suddenly akin to him. 
. . . Through the lugubrious expression on their dark 
faces a sudden light was shining. It was the light as if 
of some ecstasy. A desire fell upon him to enter into 
their dream, whatever it might be. ... In the wild 
whirl that the whiskey had whipped up in his brain 
there now came a sudden lull. It was a lull after a 
great crescendo, as in Beethoven's music. . . . He was 
hearing, with extraordinary clearness, what they were 
saying. They were speaking of the case of Ulick 
Shannon and Rebecca Kerr. These names were linked 
inseparably and were going hand in hand down all the 
byeways of their talk. . . . They were sure and certain 
that he had gone away. There was not a sign of him in 
Garradrimna this evening. That put the cap on his 


guilt surely. Wasn't she the grand whipster, and she 
supposed to be showing a good example and teaching 
religion to the childer ? A nice one to have in the parish 
indeed ! It was easy knowing from the beginning what 
she was and the fellow she struck up with Henry 
Shannon's son. Wasn't that enough for you? Henry 
Shannon, who was the best blackguard of his time ! . . . 
Just inside, and very near to John, a knot of men were 
discussing the more striking aspects of the powerful 
scandal. . . . They were recounting, with minute detail, 
the story of Nan Byrne. . . . Wasn't it the strangest 
thing now how she had managed more or less to live it 
down? But people would remember it all again in the 
light of this thing. What Ulick Shannon had done now 
would make people think of what his father had done, 
and then they must needs remember her. . . . And to 
think that no one ever knew rightly what had become of 
the child. Some there were who would tell you that 
her sister, Bridget Mulvey, and her mother, Abigail 
Byrne, buried it in the garden, and there were those 
who would tell you that it was living somewhere at the 
present time. . . . Her son John was not a bad sort, but 
wasn 't it the greatest crime for her to put him on to be a 
priest after what had happened her, and surely no good 
could come of it? ... And why wouldn't Ned Bren- 
nan know of it, and wasn't it that and nothing else that 
had made him the ruined wreck of a man he was ? Sure 
he'd never done a day's good since the night Larry 
Cully had lashed out the whole story for his benefit. 
And wasn't it quite possible that some one would be bad 
enough to tell John himself some time, or the ecclesiasti- 
cal authorities? What about the mee-aw that had hap- 


pened to him in the grand college in England that so 
much had been heard of? And there was sure to be 
something else happening before he was through the 
college at Ballinamult. A priest, how are ye? 

The whiskey had gone to his head, but, as he listened, 
John Brennan felt himself grow more sober than he had 
ever before been. ... So this was the supplement to the 
story he had heard a while ago. And now that he knew 
the whole story he began to tremble. Continually flash- 
ing across his mind were the words of the man who was 
dead and silent at the bottom of the lake "You could 
never know a woman, you could never trust her; you 
could not even trust your own mother. " This was a 
hard thing for any man at all to have said in his life- 
time, and yet how full of grim, sad truth did it now 
appear? . . . The kind forgetfulness of his choking 
bitterness that he had so passionately longed for would 
not come to him. . . . The dregs of his heart were begin- 
ning to turn again towards thoughts of magnanimity 
as they had already done in the first, clear spell of 
thought after his deed. He had then gone to gather 
sticks for the old woman, a kind thing, as Jesus might 
have done in Nazareth. . . . The change of the sovereign 
was in his hand and his impulse was strong upon him. 
He could not resist. It seemed as if a strong magnet 
was pulling a light piece of steel. . . . He had walked 
into the public bar of "The World's End." Around 
him was a sea of faces, laughing, sneering, drinking, 
sweating, swearing, spitting. He was calling for a drink 
for himself and a round for the shop. . . . Now the sea 
of faces was becoming as one face. And there was a look 
upon it which seemed made up of incredulity and con- 


tempt. . . . This was replaced by a different look when 
the pints were in their hands. . . . They were saying: 
"Good health, Mr. Brennan!" with a sneer in their tones 
and a smile of flattery upon those lips which had just 
now been vomiting out the slime of their minds. 

There was another and yet another round. As long as 
he could remain on his feet he remained standing drinks 
to them. There was a longing upon him to be doing this 
thing. And beyond it was the guiding desire to be rid 
of every penny of the sovereign his mother had given 
him to help him appear as a gentleman if he met com- 
pany. . . . Now it seemed to soil him, coming as it did 
from her. Curious that feeling after all she had done 
for him, and she his mother. But it would not leave 

The drink he had bought was fast trickling down the 
many throats that were burning to receive it. The 
rumor of his prodigality was spreading abroad through 
Garradrimna, and men had gone into the highways and 
the byeways to call their friends to the banquet. Two 
tramps on their way to the Workhouse had heard of it 
and were already deep in their pints. Upon John's 
right hand, arrived as if by magic, stood Shamesy 
Golliher, and upon his left the famous figure of Padna 
Padna, who was looking up into his face with admira- 
tion and brightness striving hard to replace the stare of 
vacancy in the dimming eyes. As he drank feverishly, 
fearful of losing any, Shamesy Golliher continuously 
ejaculated: "Me sweet fellow, John! Me sweet 
fellow!" And Padna Padna kept speaking to himself 
of the grand thing it was that there was one decent 
fellow left in the world, even if he was only Nan Byrne 's 


son. Around John Brennan was a hum of flattery es- 
sentially in the same vein. . . . And it seemed to him 
that, in his own mind, he had soared far beyond them. 
. . . Outwardly he was drunk, but inwardly he knew 
himself to be very near that rapture which would bring 
thoughts of Rebecca as he staggered home alone along 
the dark road. 

The companions of his Bacchic night had begun to 
drift away from him. Ten o'clock was on the point of 
striking, and he was in such a condition that he might 
be upon their hands at any moment. They did not 
want Walter Clinton, the proprietor of "The World's 
End," to be giving any of them the job of taking him 
home. The hour struck and the remnant went charging 
through the doorways like sheep through a gap. 
Shamesy Golliher limped out, leading Padna Padna by 
the hand, as if the ancient man had suddenly become 
metamorphosed into his second childishness. . . . "The 
bloody -looking idiot!" they were all sniggering to one 
another. "Wasn't it a hell of a pity that Ned Brennan, 
his father, and he always bowseying for drink in Mc- 
Dermott's and Brannagan's, wasn't in 'The World's 
End' to-night?" 

John was alone amidst the dregs of the feast. Where 
the spilt drink was shining on the counter there was such 
a sight of glasses as he had never before seen. There 
were empty" glasses and glasses still standing with half 
their drink in them, and glasses in which the porter 
had not been touched so drunk had everybody been. 

Walter Clinton came in indignantly and said that it 
was a shame for him to be in such a state, and to go 
home out of that at once before the peelers got a hold 


of him. . . . And he went out with difficulty and down 
the old road of the elms towards his mother's house in 
the valley. He could hear the hurrying, heavy feet 
of those he had entertained so lavishly far down before 
him on the road. . . . For the moment he was happy. 
Before his burning eyes was the form of Rebecca Kerr. 
Her face had a look of quiet loveliness. He thought 
it was like the faces of the Madonnas in Father 
O'Keeffe's parlor. . . . ''Rebecca! Rebecca !" he called 
to her ever in the agony of his love. ' ' Thy hands, dear 
Rebecca!'* . . . She was not soiled now by any earthly 
sin, for he had purified her through the miracle of blood. 
And she was clean like the night wind. 

He was a pitiable sight as he went staggering on, 
crying out this ruined girl's name to the night silence 
of the lonely places. ... At last he fell somewhere in 
the soft, dewy grass. For a long while he remained 
here until he began to realize that his vision was pass- 
ing with the decline within him of the flame by which 
it had been created. The winds upon his face and hair 
were cold, and it seemed that he was lying in a damp 
place. His eyes sprang open. . . . He was lying by the 
lakeside and at the place where he had .murdered 
Ulick Shannon. 

He jumped up of a sudden, for his fear had come 
back to him. With his mouth wide open and a clammy 
sweat upon his brow, he started to run across what 
seemed a never-ending grassy space. . . . He broke 
madly through fences of thorn and barbed wire, which 
tore his clothes and his hands. He stumbled across fields 
of tillage. ... At last, with every limb shivering, he 
came near his mother's door. . . . Presently he grew 


coldly conscious. . . . He could hear his father mutter- 
ing drunkenly within. He came nearer, striving hard 
to steady himself and walk erect. He quickened his step 
to further maintain his pretense of sobriety. His foot 
tripped against something, and he lurched forward. 
He was caught in his mother's arms, for, at the sound 
of his approach, she had opened the door in resigned 
and mournful expectation. 

"0 Jesus !" she said. 

There were two of them now.